Rashomon in the Kitchen

October 5, 2017

Words by Kit. Photography by Christian Seidenberg and Aisha Phillips.

There’s a famous Japanese film by Akira Kurosawa set several hundred years ago called Rashomon, which portrays an incident involving a woman on a journey through a forest. The story is told four times, from the differing perspectives of the four characters in the film. I have always enjoyed the idea of truth being relative to your location and context, and — as someone interested in theatre and character (where we can step into the place of other people and try out new ways of being) — I apply this thinking to a lot of situations.

Transition Bondi’s Film & Feast is one such experience. It’s a hectic evening, our monthly event, with the meal preparation being my main focus. A team of four to six volunteers prepares the organic feast for around 30 people (from a pre-delivered box of seasonal fruit and veg), with just over an hour to do so. As you can imagine, here is a perfect setting for many small dramas to be taking place, some hidden from plain view. I might write a script one day, of my imagined version of some of these dramas.

I think it is good, in such a situation, that there is a range of experiences and varied responses and initiatives going on. As the old adage says, one person’s meat is another’s poison. Some like pressure; others thrive in quiet retreat. Some come alive under stress; others lose their equilibrium. This is partly why I enjoy the role of volunteer coordinator: it keeps me on my toes in many ways, the most important being in the development and practice of harmonious human relations.

Volunteering in a community group may not be a walk in the park for everyone. I imagine a newbie could arrive feeling a mixture of curiosity and anxiety. For example, there are those who are already competent cooks, who are ready to plunge into the fray and whip up a respectable meal without any input. For them, the challenge might be more about working to the tight time frame, or having to work alongside others who are less experienced. But someone looking to feel the companionship of being in a team who hasn’t had much experience cooking might picture themselves quietly chopping carrots under the friendly guidance of a confident cook, only to find that, in reality, the instructions are confusing and the direction is not very relaxed.

As you can see, flexibility, resilience and good will are key ingredients to working on the team. These and other personal qualities can be honed (as a side dish!) along with the very practical skills of getting a tasty, colourful and nutritious plant-based meal. Come and join us as we cook new menus, and write new narratives.

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