When words can give you wings to explore the world

As a certified wanderluster, you can get your travel fix in a variety of ways. Here’s some inspiration in languages from lands far away to get you dreaming today.
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The world can be in your hands. Image: Freepik.

What is travel if not an exploration of different cultures? It doesn’t just have to be about being wowed by different landscapes but could be about discovering the scintillating beauty of new and nuanced mindscapes. Even as we are physically grounded, these soulful words from around the world can set our imagination free.

Get high on hygge

Words, language, hygge, danish
Home is where the hygge is. Image: Pexels/Tatiana Syrikova.

Meaning: A certain cosiness and comfort that gives you a sense of deep contentment.
Origin: Denmark | Another word for this: The Norwegian ‘kos’ and Scottish Gaelic ‘còsagach’ are also about being snug and sheltered against the harsh elements.
Make the word work for you: While winter is the most hygge time of the year in the Scandinavian countries (think snowbound smiling families snuggling around fireplaces over mulled wine!), you can easily see why it can have its appeal in India too. Picture a really hot day when you have the comfort of staying home in your shorts, drawing the khus-scented blinds, switching on the air-conditioning or cooler, sipping chilled drinks with the ice clinking in the glass as the sun blazes outside. A Netflix and chill sort of vibe. Or, imagine a day of heavy downpour in the monsoon when the rain is cascading steadily. That feeling of being home and dry, drinking masala chai or something stiffer and eating a plateful of piping hot pakodas – that can be very hygge too, right?

Do a day of ‘datsuzoku’

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Food has the power to transport you to a different continent. Pexels/Rania Alhamed.

Meaning: A delightful escape from your everyday routine.
Origin: Japan | Another word for this: The French ‘dérive’, which literally means to drift, refers to a spontaneous journey where the traveller leaves their life behind to let the spirit of the places visited enchant them.
Make the word work for you: So what if you’re not allowed to travel to exotic destinations at the moment? You can bring the experience to you, instead. A little homework can take you far. Pick a city or country that you’d like to visit. Cook (or order in) a meal to get a taste of that cuisine. There are plenty of recipes online and most big cities have supermarkets that stock the ingredients you’d need. Play music in the local language on Spotify as you get set to step into that world. Learn a few words and phrases in the language on Duolingo. Most importantly, switch off from work, household chores, and the pandemic reports for those precious hours, and put yourself in a ‘holiday’ frame of mind.

Feel the ‘fernweh’

Words, language, fernweh, german, longing
In a fernweh frame of mind. Image: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio.

Meaning: Far-sickness; an intense desire to travel; a longing for far-off places.
Origin: Germany | Another word for this: The Portuguese ‘saudade’, although this also has an element of melancholic longing and could pertain to a lost love as much as yearning for a place as yet unknown.
Make the word work for you: Binge-watch travel videos, scope out future trips, and relish the thoughts about where you’d like to go next. Or, indulge in long, languorous conversations about your dream destinations with a loved one or even on Club House.

Find time for ‘fika’

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Fika is a feel-good escape, be it with fun friends or your favourite book. Image: Pexels/Engin Akyurt.

Meaning: It’s the ritualistic pleasure of taking a break while sharing a beverage (usually coffee) and something to eat (often cake) with friends or colleagues.
Origin: Sweden | Another word for this: There isn’t really, although the closest word would perhaps be the archaic term ‘tiffin’, which originated in British India, and referred to a light snack consumed between meals, sometimes accompanied by a drink. But tiffin doesn’t quite convey the shared camaraderie and good feeling that accompanies a fika session.
Make the word work for you: It may not be legally protected or socially enforced in offices in India as it is in Sweden, but taking a short break even if its from your work-from-home responsibilities or household chores is a good idea to keep up spirits and strengthen the bonds. Make a Zoom date with friends, where all of you share your evening tea or coffee and snacks over a quick catch up. You could even make fika a ritual that you look forward to, be it with a parent, a partner, your kids, your pet or even a book!

Enjoy a ‘volta’

Words, language, volta, greek
A volta a day keeps the doctor away. Image: Pixels/Mentatdgt.

Meaning: Taking a relaxed evening stroll around the streets of your city.
Origin: Greece | Another word for this: The Italian ‘passeiggiata’ captures the same sense of relaxed activity. The Norwegian concept of ‘friluftsliv’ is a bit wider, literally translating to ‘free air life’. It tries to describe the feeling of being outside, exploring, and appreciating nature. This word can even encompass activities such as meditating outdoors or nature photography, but it can be as simple as an evening promenade.
Make the word work for you: Depending on the lockdown rules where you live, step out for a stroll and a bit of golden sunlight around 5pm (if you’re allowed to). Be a tourist in your own neighbourhood. Look for the exciting in the familiar – perhaps a little lane you hadn’t noticed, tiny flowers sprouting up in a mossy wall, or a lovely café that you can bookmark for a future visit. Savour the simple pleasures as you would on a vacation. Appreciate the trees, birds, and animals you encounter. The best things in life (and on a volta!) are free.

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