Thursday, April 13, 2017

Kaapshljmurslis, Karelu, Koi no yokan and Kintsukuroi

Today is your lucky day.
Today I bring you four beautiful words that are going to enter my vocabulary.
We’ll start with the banal and move to the sublime.

First, we have Kaapshljmurslis, a Latvian word that describes a person who is cramped while using public transportation.
This is one word that I had better take to heart with all the dedication with which I take other people’s elbows into my ribs, or the forbearance with which I let other people stand on my feet. Not to mention, the number of times I have nearly suffered death by strangulation on account of having somebody else’s dupatta or stole wrapped too tightly around my neck.
Us Kaapshljmurslis are happiest when we are at home, far away from the nearest form of public transportation. If that bliss isn’t available, we’ll settle for everyone else enjoying a holiday, while we go to work, relishing the joy of being able to see our toes when we want to and turning our necks this way and that just because we can.
Oh, the travails of Kaapshljmurslis.
Are you or have you ever been a Kaapshljmurslis?

The second word I bring you is Karelu, a Tulu word (from India) which describes the mark left on the skin when you wear anything tight.
Shoes, sleeves and the waistbands of skirts and trousers, they all leave their mark on us.
At first they are too tight, digging into our skin every chance they get, but if you decide to overlook the pain and continue to wear them, then they, ingrates that they are, suddenly have the elastic go all loose on us. And then we wonder where the Karelu has gone.
Does Karelu bother you?

Koi no yokan is Japanese for the premonition of love. The feeling that hits you when you meet someone and you realize that you are going to fall in love.

Love at first sight it most certainly is not. That kind barely has time to think; it is too busy falling over its own toes. Its movement is fast and furious, as it is swept off its feet.

No. Koi no yokan is entirely different.

Koi no yokan is a slow waltz, a realization on simmer, a promise that hints at something bigger, more powerful than any other feeling, but one which you walk into, on tiptoe, if you will, knowing than an adventure is about to unfold.

When I first met the Husband, I had the sensation that I had seen him somewhere before, even though I hadn’t. We hadn’t even been to the same places before that.

And yet he looked deeply familiar. Like someone I knew, or should have known and had forgotten.

That’s the closest I’ve come to Koi no yokan.

Of course, all that Koi no yokan doesn’t stop me from wondering if I had my head screwed tight back then. Or from gritting my teeth in frustration sometimes.

Koi no yokan is the presentiment of love, but it’s not magic. You still have to put in the hard work if you want love to last.

Have you experienced Koi no yokan?

And then I have Kintsukuroi, Japanese for the art of repairing broken pottery by filling the cracks with gold or silver, so that in the end, what is broken and mended is even more valuable.

I won’t ask you if you’ve gone through Kintsukuroi.

I know you have.

As Ernest Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”


  1. I am definitely a Kaapshljmurslis :)

    I love Kintsugi pottery, it has added such beauty to the world!

    ¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ Good luck on the rest of your A to Z challenge

    Sylvia @ The Creative Life

    1. I am a fellow-Kaapshljmurslis, Sylvia, and I understand your pain.
      Welcome to my blog.

  2. On a Mumbai bus one has no choice but to be a Kaapshljmursli. That word brought back many a bus ride memory - not all pleasant of course.

    1. Yes, those bus rides aren't pleasant, but molesters are always around to make it worse.

  3. Cynthia, I'm hooked to your posts! You have a way with words. Koi no yokan is a great way to sum up a flurry of emotions you feel when you are on the brink of love. I have experienced it.


    1. Thank you, Anjali, and I'm really glad to know that you have experienced Koi No Yokan. It's one of those fragile experiences that we must have at least once in life.

  4. Wow, karelu is one of those things I never knew there was a word for... And both Japanese concepts are beautiful!

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

    1. Zalka, this theme has really enlightened me. SO many words that we never knew exist and thrive.
      I agree with you about the Japanese words. They are truly beautiful.

  5. LOVELY choice of words. I was familiar with Kintsukuroi but had no idea about the others.

  6. HI Cynthia - I too am beguiled by your vocabularatic !! introductions ... they are fun and I'm befuddled for now - I'll be back ... but the two Japanese ones ring true ... cheer Hilary

    1. I'm glad you are finding my words fascinating. The Japanese words seem to have won everyone's hearts.

  7. I knew about kintsukuroi pottery, but do you know if the word also gets used metaphorically in Japanese? I never thought of it that way, and it's lovely.
    A-Z of Printmakers

    1. I don't know about that, Anne, but it's an interesting question. Cultures think differently. It is quite possible that for them it may just be a clever method of repair.



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