Lost in Translation: pochemuchka

questionspochemuchka n. // russian

a person who asks a lot of questions

Often kids will have a phase in which they ask “Why?” to literally everything you tell them. “Don’t walk in the middle of the road!”, “Why?”, “Because it’s dangerous.”, “Why?”, “Because cars are coming right towards you!”, “Why?”, “That’s just the side that they are coming from.”, “Why?”, and on and on it goes. Apparently, I was one of those children. From having many younger cousins, I know how irritating and yet almost refreshing this can be (though in the moment, it is almost always the former). They are young detectives, exploring the world around them, attempting to fix the puzzle of seemingly obscure rules without any evidence or experience to tell them for sure.

Though we tend to lose the relentless questioning of “Why?” from when were younger, it is foolish to think that the Curious George died within us. Some of society’s biggest questions and discussions are centered around the very fact that we question and challenge what we know. We long to know more. Our biggest scientific and technological discoveries were born of the pochemuchkas of our world. So what questions are you asking?


Lost in Translation: cafuné

cafuné n. // brazilian portuguese

the act of tenderly running your fingers through the hair of somebody you love

This is honestly one of my favorite words in this series of untranslatable words. For some reason, we all find ruffling hair an act of love. Be it your significant other, your sister, or your baby cousin. So many times in my life, I’ve received hair-mess-ups as a sign of love, support even. My cousin even tried to do it before I left for prom (not cool!). So, although I may not have personally performed this loving act often myself, I can tell you that even the idea of it is quintessentially is a sign of love, and that I know from experience.


What other small acts of love do you appreciate? Let me know in the comments below!

Lost in Translation: tiám

tiám n. // farsi

the twinkle in your eye when you first meet someone

This is something that happens only when you meet certain people.

I love the idea that we are all made of stars and stardust, that the skies actually live within us. And I believe that if that’s true, then when our eyes twinkle, it’s the universe alerting us of something important. In this case, if you meet someone for the first time and your eyes are twinkling, that person is sure to be a big part of your life, in one way or another. When I see people speak of their passions, I see their eyes twinkle, and I know that the
universe is filling them with a brimming love that they can hardly contain in words. It is the mark of a truly special moment that brings out the eye twinkle. You feel your body wake up, as though a burst of electricity has just shocked your entire body. The last time I felt this way was when I first met some of my floormates. We had an immediate connection of interests that we bonded over. It was like an important puzzle piece of my life puzzle had been found and was about to be placed.


When was the last time your eyes sparkled? Let me know in the comments below!

Lost in Translation: naz

naz n. // urdu

the pride and assurance that comes from knowing you are loved unconditionally

This is a beautiful word. Those of us who are privileged to say that we have naz know just how beautiful. In fact the word –though managing to perfectly describe it- does not feel sufficient enough. I need a stronger word to describe that pure satisfaction of knowing and feeling unconditional love. Be it from relatives, partners, friends, or maybe just your mom, naz is able to bring a certain joy to your world that might be missing otherwise. So, friendly reminder to tell the ones who you love unconditionally that they are so. Spread the naz, people!



Who are the people in your life who give you naz? Tell me in the comments below!

Lost in Translation: boketto

boketto n. // japanese

gazing vacantly into the distance without really thinking about anything specific

Wbokettoe often call this “dozing off”, or “staring into the distance”. I do it so often! I just sit there and let my mind wander, and yet it rests, silent. In fact, some forms of yoga or meditation require you to sit still, with your eyes closed, and just clear your mind until you are not thinking at all. When you do it intentionally, it’s harder than it seems. Yet some of us –more than others– can easily slip into a conscious absence of thought and just disappear into the depths of our mind palace.

Realistically, our brains are always active, and so being completely absent of thought is rare. People who are staring off are usually daydreaming about something. I know that personally these are crucial moments of creativity, when my brain breaks off from its normal task and runs off to catch a butterfly of an idea. Sometimes it is as simple as a scene or a character, and sometimes I am reenacting moments of my life or moments that I hope will come to be. So maybe, moments of boketto are our eyes are settling into blank space, so to speak, to allow our brains to breathe.


How often do you find yourself in boketto? Where do you go in your head when you daydream? Tell me in the comments below!

Lost in Translation: tsundoku

tsundoku n. // japanese

leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up with other unread books

If there is any word in the world to describe me so perfectly, it is absolutely this one. I am tsundoku. I cannot tell you the amount of books I have stacked up under my desk right at this very moment, all books I have bought with the absolute intention of reading them, all left completely unopened and still remain unread. If you must know, I am the occasional procrastinator, and although I love reading, it is one of the hobbies that I end up procrastinating in. I’ll let the stacks of books tell you that much. And if you don’t believe me about the tsundoku thing, just ask my mom. She’ll tell you all about how I’m always buying books but never reading them. To be fair, I do have a list that prioritizes which books to read. I’ll share with you my Top 3 To Read Books:

  1. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  3. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald


What are your “to read” books? Tell me in the comments below!

Lost in Translation: aay’han

aay’han n. // mandalorian

a bittersweet moment of mourning and joy

This is a word that is very relevant to me, especially today. Today is my official move-in day of college and my official move-out day from home. It’s a strange feeling. In the car ride alone I’ve experienced everything from fear to excitement to tummy-turning anxiety to nausea to frustration. Finding today’s word was fitting and my escape of the day as we made the two-hour drive to my campus, because I think at the end of it all, I will have successfully landed on aay’han. As I prepare myself to handle it as calmly as possible, I know that it will emotional all day. I won’t be alone in it, I know. My fellow classmates will surely feel the same. I am already expecting to hear lots of yelling as everybody tries to make it that much easier to part ways, and still once all the boxes have been lugged over and everything has found its new place, there will be tears and hugs of aay’han as families mourn a temporary yet long separation and find joy and pride in how far we as children have come.

I remember my last drive to my campus, sitting just as nervously in my seat in the car then as I do now, listening to my father ramble off cliché advice (seriously, he sounded like Polonius). I pray that I can get through this bittersweet day without too much mourning. My heart breaks a little to be away from my family, but I am thrilled to see what challenges college brings me, and I can’t wait to conquer those challenges all on my own.


When was the last time you felt aay’haan? Tell me in the comments below! (P.S. – Any and all college/move-in tips will be welcomed with open arms!)


Lost in Translation: vacilando

vacilando v. // spanish

traveling when the experience itself is more important than the destination

For me, this is often the case when I am traveling.


Now, of course, when I go to a new place, the exploration and the discovery, and the sightseeing and inevitable forced photoshoots by my mother are incredibly exciting. However, the bonding tends to happen in the traveling itself. I remember when I went to Italy for an exchange program, my classmates and I became closest during the butt-flattening hours on the plane picking movies to watch together and the mixed relief and anxiety of walking around the airport during layovers. When my family and I travel up to Maine for our annual camping trip, it is of course exciting to compete in family games and eat a ton of food, but driving up together, cars one behind the other on an otherwise abandoned road is something I find far more the memorable experience.


What’s your favorite travel memory when the traveling part was more important than the destination? Tell me in the comments below!

Lost in Translation: ‘akihi

‘akihi n. // hawaiian

listening to directions and then walking off and promptly forgetting them means that you’ve gone “‘akihi”

This might be something only relatable to a few, but I know that peScreen Shot 2016-07-27 at 11.26.41 PMrsonally, I am terrible at directions, and this is totally something that I would do. Heaven knows how many times I have used Google Maps and still gotten lost. In fact, once I went on a walk with a friend and we ended up getting so lost that we had to call another friend to come pick us up so that we could drive back to wherever the car was and then go home! That was a day I don’t think I will forget any time soon. Pro tip: do not let Kavya be the GPS.


What are your best getting lost stories? Tell me in the comments below!

Lost in Translation

According to the Linguistic Society of America, there are roughly 6,900 distinct living languages in the world today. Though approximately 2,000 of those languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers, the fact remains that there are vastly diverse groups of people who populate this earth. In today’s world filled with the latest technology, resources for anything and everything are quite literally at our fingertips. The speed and frequency through which we can communicate with one another is truly baffling, and yet it leaves a lot of room for miscommunication – and that’s all just in the same language.

Our ability to use language is actually crazy, if you think about it. Language allows us to express our emotions and intentions. We can voice our opinion and declare our love and whisper our sorrows. Words and language gives us the tools to hold onto an absurdly beautiful amount. We can reach out and touch the lives of others just by stringing together some symbols that our ancestors created. We can bring people together and tear people apart with the same 26 letters, and that is just English.

Still, there remain another (approximately) 6,899 languages that exist in which there are words for things we could never even imagine. In this series of posts, I hope you discover some words that perfectly express moments you could never fully describe. So come, let’s get lost in translation.