Monday, 28 April 2014

X for Xenos

Once we leave our home country we turn into a foreigner.. Isn't that so? We can be a tourist, traveler, visitor, guest, explorer - but we are still a foreigner, a non-native..

Some people are more concerned with the term foreigner than others. I am not one of those people. For me, the chemistry with - and personality of - the person I meet on my path will always overshadow where the person is from. And let's face it: we are each and one of us a foreigner somewhere....

The word xenos in Greek means foreigner, but it can be interpreted as (the more hostileenemy/stranger but also as guest friend ... and that takes us to:

Xenia - which is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality: the generosity and kindness shown to those who are far from home. You remember our Greek gods right? Well, people back then believed that the gods mingled among them, so a foreigner could be a god or a goddesses in disguise. That is why they were always kind and respectful to a stranger, because if he/she was a god, they could be blessed by him/her (and if they were not, there was a risk of incurring the wrath of the god in disguise as a humble xenos). Even though the origin of xenia was around the gods, it became common practice with the Greeks to incorporate xenia into their customs and manners in their everyday life.

Xenia consists of two basic rules: The respect from host to guest. The host must be hospitable to the guest and provide him/her with food, drink, bath, shelter and protection if required. The respect from guest to host: The guest must be courteous to the host and not be a burden.

So, where does my dream destination come into this, dear reader? Well you see, for me, some of the best destinations has been the places where I have met new people. New friends. Foreigners, like we all are really. Wherever I go. Whether it is on a beach, on a mountain top, on a plane or at my local supermarket. That meeting between people, regardless of background, home-country, faith or beliefs, that makes it just my favorite place to be. There and then. That moment. With that xenos. 

So, I let myself inspire of the ancient Greeks: treat every foreigner with kindness and respect, because you never know if it is a god or a godess in disguise... 

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
― Robert Louis Stevenson, The Silverado Squatters

I am a foreigner, but I like to hide the fact. I'd rather people be prejudiced against my personality. 
― Bauvard, The Prince Of Plungers

But I don’t think of myself as a foreigner or a Frenchman! I just think of myself as a director. Whether I’m French or Australian or whatever, it’s really not important.
— Michel Hazanavicius

In Paris, one is always reminded of being a foreigner. If you park your car wrong, it is not the fact that it’s on the sidewalk that matters, but the fact that you speak with an accent.
Roman Polanski

So, as an expat I feel the foreigner concept can be even more confusing. Norway will always be my home country, but living so many years in Greece makes it my home too. And now India, my dear "adopted country" - it also feels like home... And when you live so many years abroad... can it also be that you may feel a bit foreign in your original country? I'm just asking...

A post on the philosophical side today dear reader. Only two more days to go, and I am sooooo excited about taking you to Y.... tomorrow. For me it will be one of the big highlights on this world tour, and I am pretty sure you will enjoy it immensely.

See you soon, guest-friend:-)

Have a relaxed afternoon:-) 

1-30 April I participate in the A to Z blogger challenge, and this post is written as a part of that challenge. Check out some amazing participating blogs hereMy theme for the challenge is Dream Destinations. I hope you had fun coming along? Please stay tuned for a new destination tomorrow. 


  1. Aah another Xenia !! Yep its another word that I considered before I finalized on Xyst :)


  2. X is a problem, isn't it? Well fielded, though (I'm still not happy about my effort today).
    I don't think one can or should ever lose one's national identity, but after eight years living in France, I no longer think of England as home. Home, they say, is where the heart is. To me, home is where I feel comfortable, where I feel I belong. That makes home a movable thing. At present, France is home. What does that make England? I rather like the phrase my Indian friends working with me in Dubai used to describe the place their family was living. England is my native place.
    Keith at A storey of stories

  3. That philosophy kept me thinking for quite a while and I agree with every words...Thanks for introducing this concept though. Hospitality is at the very core of Indian philosophy as well and embrace everyone is a deep rooted thought...Thanks for introducing a new words as well...

  4. This too is a kind of travel. Travelling the terrains of minds and hearts as we begin to realize that we are all part foreigners, part natives, part guests, part hosts, part human-beings and part gods :) I very much enjoyed your post today, Eli. Xenia was the name of the little town near the university where I taught for many years in Ohio. And this concepts sounds somewhat similar to the Indian idea of Atithi Devo bhava - which can be translated to mean - Guest is a god, or Have the same attitude toward a guest as you would have toward a god. Interesting how old civilizations saw many things so similarly :)

  5. Hey I loved that little glimpse of Greek philosophy. It's so close to our Indian philosophy where we maintain 'guests are God'.

  6. Eli! Didn't know bout Xenia but I feel that there is no foreigners in this universe but we are, fellow travellers, willing to discover a those quotes..I hate the word 'Foreigners' hehe coz I feel it creates a distance among humans. As always, super creative post:)

  7. Seeing your excitement now I am eagerly waiting for ur Y post. This is the second Xenos post am reading today and thanks for letting us know the history behind it and the greek's belief . Good one !
    Loved all those quotes .yep like u said we are all strangers at one point of time :)
    glad to hav bumped in to u Eli :)

  8. Loved what you did with the letter X. Genius! X is a hard letter!

  9. Great post and thoughts, Eli!

  10. Treat every foreigner with respect, is a good motto. You are so right, we could be being hospitable to God in disguise.We have a saying in India, atithi devo bhavah- guest is God.Loved this beautiful post today, Eli

  11. Love this post Eli. I guess it doesn't matter where you are born, you can make anywhere home. You are lucky to call 3 places home now!!

  12. In India, it is 'Atithi Devo Bhav' means 'Guest is God' same as Xenia....isn't it?
    We all are global citizens nowadays...
    lovely post Eli

  13. Such a beautiful post today Eli. Xenia a very warm concept and yes much like the Indian philosophy on treating your guests as Gods!
    I have had such a dreamy journey with you, kind of sad that it is coming to an end! Sigh!

  14. Eli, I couldn't agree with you more. I travel to meet and get to know people and their way of life...the sights are secondary! Love it. (

  15. The concept of Xenia is what is the central to Indian philosophy which is Athithi Devo Bhava. It means he 'Guest is God'. Lovely post, Eli :)

  16. The thing about your post I identified is the part where we feel at home no matter where we are. I lived in Kenya for 5 years and I feel a close kinship to the place even today. And though I cannot dream of settling anywhere else but India, I must admit that the rolling greenery of the National Reserves in Kenya are a temptation :)

    Thank you for this post, Eli.

  17. Eli, love your X-words :) and the varied thoughts on being a foreigner. So true, wherevr we live we start feeling at home there so much so that our mother country can feel a bit foreign. We returned to India after 14 years in Autsralia, it IS interesting how places change us :)

  18. As they say in India - Athithi Devo Bhava!

  19. Brilliant... in India we say Athithi Devo Bhava!! and looks like all the countries are overlapped in their cultural heritage

    ~S(t)ri Writes

  20. ah! Your X for Xenos is brilliant!
    And such a wonderful insight into Greek philosophy as well!!

  21. And I think that you'll be one of the last people to have xenophobia, no pun on the word intended. You're so well-travelled and knowledgable!!


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