I wish I could join everyone and celebrate my mother today but I do not have—never had—that kind of love in my heart. You guys are lucky. Me, I’m staying away from social media today.
I just had a bowl of instant noodles. My mother says my love for noodles and broth began this way as a child, no thanks to her younger brother’s pasalubongs. My uncle worked for a Japanese vessel, and would bring home—among other cutesy novelty items from the motherland of kawaii—boxes upon boxes of ramyeon. This probably explains the twisted adult I’ve grown to become—I mean, all that MSG and palm oil during my formative years!—but hey, if its inventor Momofuku Ando lived up to a vital 98 eating Nissin’s Cup Noodles every day since 1958, his likeness immortalized in a solid gold statue, I should be just fine.
So yes, it is the lowly instant noodles that has spurred in me a lifelong, formidable search of that perfect bowl. To quote Anthony Bourdain’s twitter, “I am happiest with a bowl of noodles in broth anywhere in the world,” and like the rest of Manila, I’m all about ramen.
Meet our fellow ramen lovers from 1910. I slurp like the geisha on the left.
Here are my top ten words, compiled from online collections, to describe love, desire and relationships that have no real English translation, but that capture subtle realities that even we English speakers have felt once or twice. As I came across these words I’d have the occasional epiphany: “Oh yeah! That’s what I was feeling…”
Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.
Oh yes, this is an exquisite word, compressing a thrilling and scary relationship moment. It’s that delicious, cusp-y moment of imminent seduction. Neither of you has mustered the courage to make a move, yet. Hands haven’t been placed on knees; you’ve not kissed. But you’ve both conveyed enough to know that it will happen soon… very soon.
Yuanfen(Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends.
From what I glean, in common usage yuanfen means the “binding force” that links two people together in any relationship.
But interestingly, “fate” isn’t the same thing as “destiny.” Even if lovers are fated to find each other they may not end up together. The proverb, “have fate without destiny,” describes couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason. It’s interesting, to distinguish in love between the fated and the destined. Romantic comedies, of course, confound the two.
Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone’s hair.
Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time.
This is such a basic concept, and so familiar to the growing ranks of commuter relationships, or to a relationship of lovers, who see each other only periodically for intense bursts of pleasure. I’m surprised we don’t have any equivalent word for this subset of relationship bliss. It’s a handy one for modern life.
Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.
Apparently, in 2004, this word won the award as the world’s most difficult to translate. Although at first, I thought it did have a clear phrase equivalent in English: It’s the “three strikes and you’re out” policy. But ilunga conveys a subtler concept, because the feelings are different with each “strike.” The word elegantly conveys the progression toward intolerance, and the different shades of emotion that we feel at each stop along the way.
Ilunga captures what I’ve described as the shade of gray complexity in marriages—Not abusive marriages, but marriages that involve infidelity, for example. We’ve got tolerance, within reason, and we’ve got gradations of tolerance, and for different reasons. And then, we have our limit. The English language to describe this state of limits and tolerance flattens out the complexity into black and white, or binary code. You put up with it, or you don’t. You “stick it out,” or not.
Ilunga restores the gray scale, where many of us at least occasionally find ourselves in relationships, trying to love imperfect people who’ve failed us and whom we ourselves have failed.
La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.
When I came across this word I thought of “unrequited” love. It’s not quite the same, though. “Unrequited love” describes a relationship state, but not a state of mind. Unrequited love encompasses the lover who isn’t reciprocating, as well as the lover who desires. La douleur exquise gets at the emotional heartache, specifically, of being the one whose love is unreciprocated.
Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.
This is different than “love at first sight,” since it implies that you might have a sense of imminent love, somewhere down the road, without yet feeling it. The term captures the intimation of inevitable love in the future, rather than the instant attraction implied by love at first sight.
Ya’aburnee(Arabic): “You bury me.” It’s a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person, because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
The online dictionary that lists this word calls it “morbid and beautiful.” It’s the “How Could I Live Without You?” slickly insincere cliché of dating, polished into a more earnest, poetic term.
Forelsket: (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you’re first falling in love.
This is a wonderful term for that blissful state, when all your senses are acute for the beloved, the pins and needles thrill of the novelty. There’s a phrase in English for this, but it’s clunky. It’s “New Relationship Energy,” or NRE.
Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling of longing for someone that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.”
It’s interesting that saudade accommodates in one word the haunting desire for a lost love, or for an imaginary, impossible, never-to-be-experienced love. Whether the object has been lost or will never exist, it feels the same to the seeker, and leaves her in the same place: She has a desire with no future. Saudade doesn’t distinguish between a ghost, and a fantasy. Nor do our broken hearts, much of the time.
—> Know that feel.
Really interesting stuff. Definitely worth the read.
Falling in love with language all over again.
These things, details, stories, whatever, are like the skin shed by snakes, who leave theirs for anyone to see. What does he care where it is, who sees it, this snake, and his skin? He leaves it where he molts. Hours, days or months later, we come across a snake’s long-shed skin and we know something of the snake, we know that it’s of this approximate girth and that approximate length, but we know very little else. Do we know where the snake is now? What the snake is thinking now? No. By now the snake could be wearing fur; the snake could be selling pencils in Hanoi. The skin is no longer his, he wore it because it grew from him, but then it dried and slipped off and he and everyone could look at it. — Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Do you make a point of building up other women, even those you dislike, in discussing them with a man?
This is sound practice. But don’t put it on so think that it sounds like a line.
How attractive are you to the opposite sex? In 1949, Esquire set out to help ladies and bachelors woo each other more effectively with two questionnaires on the do’s and don’ts of courtship.
Fascinating how so much of this remains to be true to this day. Personally though, regarding number 14 for gentlemen, this lady always prefers a lavish spread.
Your daily dose of cool is brought to you by #DaftPunk in sequined #LeSmoking by #HediSlimane for SaintLaurentMusicBook. #GetLucky
It was more than a beauty emergency. The cave men started it all; yes, hair removal dates that far back. It was essential for survival. You wouldn’t want your enemies to have anything to grab on, be they men or mites, ticks, and lice.
To this day—especially this season!—its necessity for survival remains. It all began with this ad on the May 1915 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
In Manila, objectionable hair is more objectionable than ever (no matter what fans of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution say). Concepts to remove them, polarized between ghetto and bougie, have sprouted all over the metro like armpit hair a day after shaving.
To me, that’s armpit hair I might never have to see. I’m so happy with Wink Laser and Wax Studio at The Fort.
It’s not just a nice photo, it is really that nice.
It was my dear friend, beauty blogger Liz Lanuzo who introduced me to Wink and its proprietor, the stunningly flawless Holly Chang. Girl opened Wink so she no longer has to relive her own share of hair removal horrors.
I think I’ve seen them all: dermatitis from some fancy organic wax. Ingrowns. Redness that didn’t go away for days.
I know I’ve heard them all, with only an inch of plywood between me and men and women screaming, whimpering in agony at budget waxing salons. All the grumpy technicians annoyed by how red my skin gets. That, or my wallet poofing as it thins in volume because it’s just so pricey to simply be laid where I know my skin is not rubbing on somebody else’s secretions, for the love of hygiene, just to have my own space.
Sigh. But that’s all before Wink. You’ll be surprised how reasonable the prices are considering how fabulous it all is.
A spritz of perfume, a slick of gloss, and layer some accessories. No more midday manic Monday blues! #senseandstyle
My parents’ latest pick.
give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right. —
warsan shire. (via warsanshire)
Yes. Yes. Yes.
there it is again, so you can feel it.
thanks mum(via yaffingales)
Better spell it right, too.
(Source: afrosandpeeptoes, via yaffingales)
Something tells me Bill and I will get along just fine #billblass #retro #perfume #ad #fashionhistory101
Love #DaftPunk’s teasers; here’s part 2. #ToddEdwards’ view along Mulholland Drive. He moved to California for #RandomAccessMemories! He passionately talks #inspiration, #music, and #sampling: https://www.youtube.com/embed/yf2bu0P_4Vo
Antoine de Saint Exupery loved his wife Consuelo so much, he gave her the world and The Little Prince. All she wanted was to have him by her side.
Prince Philip’s patience He waited for decades; what’s an extra twenty minutes for you to finish getting ready?
The Beast cleans up well If your feelings for him are true, that is.
Prince Eric’s openness He’ll want to kiss you—scaly fin, lack of conversational skills, and all.
Hercules knows people in high places More importantly, your romance will be scored by five sassy Muses!
Prince Charming’s dance moves He’ll never step on your favorite pair of [glass] shoes.
Prince Naveen’s smooth-talking personality Beauty fades. What’s within shines through, even when he turned into a frog!
Prince Aladdin can show you the world In a Magic Carpet, at that! You’ll be cruisin’ in style.
This is but a playful take on Imaginary Disney Boyfriend Wishlist making the rounds on my feeds. Check it out!