Writersbootcampza #2 – Five of my favourite words

by Roxana Bouwer


(Adjective, Dutch)

I lived in Rotterdam, Holland for one year, working as a live-in au pair. This word is my teleportation device – back in time, across the world.

It’s an experience I struggle to explain.

You’re in a small restaurant. It’s a late winter’s afternoon. It’s -7 degrees outside but you’re comfortable. It’s warm and inquisitive rays of sun offer a gentle glow. You have five of your best humans around you. The conversation is so authentic it makes you feel like you’ve never been alone and never will be.

You get up from the table to take a phone call. Before you rejoin, you stop. You choose a moment of witness. Perspective. You see what you were a part of, what’s about to consume you again. And it’s difficult to tell whether you love your friends or whether you are, in fact, in love with everyone one of them.



I once went on a really bad date. Well, I’ve been on a few. But only one is relevant right now.
The next day I was talking to a friend about it online. Explaining how I know I should be attracted to this Adonis of a man and that we have a lot in common and he’s so shy it’d be more comfy hanging out with Gollum.

He was asking for details of the evening and how I felt about how things went.

I was about to launch into a tirade of typing, using all the adjectives (bad form), saying everything.
Then, in a moment of expansion, I realised my position on the experience could be comprehensively summed up with one word: Ennui.

So that’s all I typed. My friend’s questions abated. All of them having been answered with five letters.


In the winter of 2013 I had the greatest holiday of my life with dear friends in Ithaca an island to the west of Greece.

Yasas. It’s colloquial. It’s ‘hi, howzit, hello’.

It’s also fun to say as a South African because of our unaware penchant for liberally sprinkling ‘jussus’ into our daily banter. Like it’s a condiment for bland language.

The word makes me happy. It reminds me of flopping from the too-hot, too-bright outside into a consequentially too-dark tiny shop at the top of a hill. A post-swim break en route home. “Yasas!” says everyone in varying degrees of breathlessness. “Yasas!” the Greeks smile.

It’s time for ice-cream.


Aum is supposed to be the frequency that the universe vibrates at. When you say/chant it correctly (most don’t) it’s a worthwhile experience.

Breathe deep into your belly. Now make the sound “aw’ from that same part of your belly for a few seconds.

Then move up your body and get a “ooh” sound vibing from your chest and up into your throat. Finally, move onto a “mmm” sound from your mouth with your lips closed. Your lips should tickle and, (don’t freak out) so should your third eye.

How peaceful.


Russell Brand is the reason I know this word. I enjoy his intellect (and his face). He uses it often in his books, comedy and interviews.

Solipsism is a philosophy that the self – one’s own mind – is all that can be known to exist.
It’s a lonely idea. Narcissistic too.

That’s why I like the word so much. It’s contrary to what it captures. It’s not its definition. It’s pleasurable to say. All those serpentine s-sounds and the hiccupping ‘ip’, ‘is’, and ‘ic’.

You can roll it around in your mouth like a cherry Fizz Pop. The word being the saccharine mantle, the definition the effervescing sherbet.