Seeking and Finding Kaif Through Travel
There are certain moments in life that words from the English language can’t seem to describe. No matter how hard we try to find the right words, they fall short of the actual emotions and sensations we experience. That’s why we’re so drawn to those untranslatable foreign words and phrases that seem to sum up our feelings so perfectly.
The German language gave us wanderlust and fernweh (longing for a place you’ve never visited). The Spaniards gave us sobremesa - the time spent relaxing and conversing with friends and family at the table after a meal.
And Ukrainian slang gave us kaif, a feeling of intense bliss or emotion.
Arabic in origin, kaif has become one of the most commonly used words in Russian and Ukrainian slang. It is the ultimate feeling of euphoria, although it can also be used to describe a range of pleasant emotions like joy, bliss, and delight. Life’s happiest, most memorable moments are the catalysts for kaif.
There’s no direct English translation for kaif, but it’s something that only needs to be felt once to be understood. As travelers, kaif is something that we’ve all experienced. In fact, for many people, kaif is the ultimate motivation for travel - whether they realize it or not.
Ask the average millennial why they travel, and they’ll likely tell you that it’s about the sights. They’ll tell you that they want to see something memorable or beautiful or unique. But in reality, it’s not about the sights; it’s about something much deeper.
We travel because we want to connect with new cultures, places and people. We travel because we want to open our hearts to the world and feel inspired by the places we visit. We travel to make lasting memories, and to grow as individuals.
We travel because we’re seeking kaif.
Kaif is the giddy delight you feel when you gaze upon that famous World Heritage site, magnificent mountain range or sparkling city skyline, because for so long you had dreamed of visiting that particular place, and you finally made it there.
Kaif is the feeling of stumbling across a scene that’s as unbelievably beautiful as it is fascinating and unexpected, and walking away feeling like a different person after you’ve seen it. It’s the awe and wonder of standing next to ruins that are thousands of years old, knowing that you’re the closest to ancient history that you’ve ever been in your entire life.
Kaif is the joy of trying a local food for the first time, and wondering how you made it your entire lifetime without ever having tasted it, because it just might be the best food in the world. It’s the thrill of pushing yourself to do something that you never thought physically possible before, like ascending a challenging mountain peak or scuba diving 40 meters below sea level.
Kaif is also the pure comfort and happiness you feel as you sit at an outdoor sidewalk cafe, enjoying a hot cup of coffee and soaking in the architecture, language, views, sounds, and smells of a foreign city. And it’s the feeling of stepping into a breathtakingly beautiful temple or church and seeing the ornate decor, smelling the incense and candles, and hearing the soft prayers.
Above all, kaif is the unforgettable moments we carry with us through life; it’s the reason we’re inspired to travel again and again.
Many years from now, it may be difficult to remember the exact details about the destinations we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, and the foods we’ve tasted. We may forget facts, names, colors and directions.
But the feelings of bliss and joy and wonder you experience while traveling - the feeling of kaif - that’s something you’ll never forget. Kaif may be found in different places and mean something different for each traveler, but one thing is for certain: you’ll know when you’ve found it, and you’ll remember that feeling forever.