Friendships: A delicate relationship between two people with common values and are willing to help each other whenever it is needed. There are many types of friendships that exist, starting with the closest friends who grow up together and are partners for life, then friends you know from your work or school with whom you go to concerts and other public events, and lastly, colleagues with whom you work together but not have much for personal relationships. While in the United States, making friends is as fast as getting married within a year after meeting your true love, and one can have over 900 friends but only a handful of best friends, Germans tend to take friendships as seriously as the way they treat their books- they are sacred! That means only a dozen friends with whom you spend time with regularly. And for colleagues, “….working relationship please! I don’t want to know about your daughter’s graduation from Gymnasium!”
Making friends in Germany is a delicate task, even when you have some people on your wish list, whom you want to befriend. Seriously, we all have a list of that kind, even if it is engrained in our heads! I personally have one too, albeit with only a couple coconuts I’m trying to pry open. 😉 But seriously, establishing a friendship can be a delicate task, especially when you encounter a person whose characteristics are well different than yours but you both feel that there are some similarities and there is that other side of the person you want to know. In some cases it takes meeting a perfect stranger and a crazy adventure and you are friends for life. In other cases, establishing a friendship between a coconut (a stiff and secluded person) and a peach (an open-minded and adventurous person) takes a long time to develop, and one mistake can be disastrous, even if one attempts to clarify a misunderstanding. Every ex-patriate has gone down this road at least once and has learned a valuable lesson from this.
In either case, people come together for a reason, and there are many ways to tear down barriers and become friends for life, as seen in this week’s profiled genre, Rocker Rudi, from the Siebenstein series. Created for TV in 1988, the show features Frau Siebenstein, an owner of a small shop with full of magical surprises. She has a talking suitcase (Koffer), who has been on several adventures and is a storyteller, and a raven, Rudi, who is careless but assertive. The show can be seen on Sundays in the German children’s channel KIKA but it also has a website you can click on here.
In this episode, produced in 2010, a friend of Siebenstein’s (Doris) asks Rudi to clean the dishes, which he puts in the washing machine along with other items only to find that it is kaputt after a few short minutes. In the meantime, a biker enters the shop, looking lost as he was looking for a tatoo shop, only to see what happened to the washing machine and offers his help. Despite the hesitancy from Rudi and Koffer, Doris allows the biker to repair the washing machine and some amazing things happen in the end. More can be found here:
The episode went beyond the tatoos, the biking and the rock music as the main characters, who once had looked at one side of the biker, later looked at the other sides of him and eventually befriended him in the end. Sometimes people only look at one side of another person without looking at the other sides or at least find out why he has certain flaws that he either has problems dealing with or is unaware of what he has. If we only look at one side of a person, we will never know what the person is like on the inside. Sometimes it takes time to get to know the person in order to understand. Sometimes there is a reason for one person reaching out to another for help. In other cases, people, like the biker in the story, whom we never expect help from, offer their services as a way of relieving the person of despair. We may never know. But the main idea behind this episode is never judge the person by one side only or even by his “outer” appearance. Time is needed to know the rest of the person and eventually, befriend him. All it takes is patience, openness and the willingness to put aside their differences and forgive each other for the misunderstandings. While Americans are more quick to befriend a person, other cultures require time and effort to know the person before taking that step. Therefore it is important not to be judgemental, but allow the time needed to make friends and let it grow.
I would like to end this Genre of the Week with a story about a person who tried to open a raw coconut. He shook it, slammed it on the ground, sat on it while thinking and even tried to pry it open with a knife. Unfortunately it was to no avail, and the person had no choice but to let it be and ferment. A couple weeks leter, it ripened to a point where it was eventually eaten. Sometimes the Lord has His ways in deciding when to befriend someone and when to ferment someone you want to befriend. A lesson for the ages to be passed down to those who are trying to make friends with people of other cultures but to no avail. Time and effort are of the essence when it comes to making friends with others. This was a lesson taken from a deeply devoted Christian recently and one I hope others will follow. 🙂