Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hom Gaem

Just a quick cultural tidbit for today. I wanna tell you about the Thai "hom" หอม or "sniff kiss" as it is often called by foreigners.

I guess more appropriately the action of sniff kissing is Hom Gaem หอมแก้ม, or "sniff cheek" literally. The sniff kiss is a sniff with the nose to the cheek of the person being "hom-ed". It's a lot less "physical" or "erotic" than a lip or French kiss. It is a lot cuter and doesn't involve the swapping of bodily fluids. The sniff kiss is seen between parents and babies, babies and babies, children and parents, parents and their older children, and boyfriends and girlfriends. Sometimes it tickles!!It's not as open as the European cheek kiss greeting, it's used in close familial relationships only as I've noticed in my time here. In fact I've only seen little cute nieces, nephews and mom "hom gaem" Pae. Only seen Pae "hom gaem" of tiny children or puppies! I'd almost say that "hom gaem" is a "hug" wrapped up in a kissing action. A hug being a physical embrace, sharing closeness, expressing "love". Maybe that's a weird way to think of it, but it's not the action I'm trying to convey, but the feeling.The "hom" is usually very sweet and performed with eyes closed. When you see a mother "hom gaem" of her full grown son, it's very sweet. When you see a toddler "hom gaem" of a grandma or an auntie, it's equally sweet (although this hom often involves a slobbery cheek!) The photo below is a sniff kiss fail! Although, the giant sow doesn't look too disappointed!Now that I think of it, the sniff kiss is a bit similar to the Hawaiian "Honi" where you can sometimes see people greet each other with their foreheads and noses touching...inhaling each other's breath.If you come to Thailand though, I wouldn't expect to receive a sniff kiss as they may greet total strangers with a big hug in Hawaii...it's a little more intimate than that. As far as PDA (Public Display of Affection) this is even a shy area for many Thais...public "hom-ing" :)

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