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With Karma Kitchen being on Halloween this week, we were certain to have our share of surprises. But the power of some of today's generosity stories were unexpected gifts that I will treasure for a long time to come.
First-time volunteer Charisette started by sharing in the opening circle how grateful she was for the love and patience everyone was showing her since she arrived to Berkeley as an exchange student. She recalled how a small act of kindness from a BART attendant really made her day, and was at Karma Kitchen to pay it forward. Her enthusiasm, smiles, and bright, generous spirit serving up front brightened the whole restaurant. Meanwhile, in the back Tiffany kept the drinks and desserts coming, while intuitively stepping in to do dishes and clear tables, which kept the whole restaurant flowing smoothly! Lachmin was feeling under-the-weather, but maintained a flawless plating job! Working solo for much of the time, others marveled at how she was still able to lovingly attend to every detail while plating! Bhoutik was the ambiance of Karma Kitchen- providing music, smiles, laughter- holding down the fort with Juan on dishes, serving, talking, clearing tables- he was icing on the Karma Kitchen cake. Our anchor Audrey was a steadying influence as interface, Lachmin was raving at how easy she made everyone else's job all day.
We had some remarkable guests and other friends share their spirit at KK this week. Trushna and Nirav came early to deliver some incredible deserts: Halloween cookies, vegan chocolate cake (we want that recipe!), and decadent chocolate truffles. They were a huge hit. Later Susan came by and tagged the whole volunteer crew with her own batch of homemade cookies. So sweet (literally)!
Richard came for lunch with two remarkable friends, Marvin Sanders and Haricharan Das, and Marvin delighted the restaurant with an incredible Bach solo on his flute. The co-founders of Karma Kitchen Chicago graced us with their presence, and we did our best to live up to the high standards they have set :-) Afreen brought one of her students from nearby Oakland, and tells how the student studied the KK menu's FAQ carefully, then announced decidedly, "You know, I'm going to volunteer here". Then a young woman comes in very out of sorts, sits at a table and starts crying. Sensing the woman's fragile state, Audrey comes over and embraces her, and Manasi sits with her and finds that she just needed someone to listen to her. We tag her with one of the intricate handmade cards made by an anonymous KK regular.
The "Card Lady" deserves her own description. We find her outside the restaurant with a pen, pad, and magnifying glass pointed to the KK menu, writing down the names of the food being served. "My eye sight is not that great, but I like to make the messages in the cards rhyme with the food being served," she tells. Her presence is so warm, so magnetic. She explains that giving these cards to guests at Karma Kitchen is something she treasures because the spirit behind her cards is the same as KK's. "If people can give up their fear just a little bit, they will see how wonderful generosity is". We thanked her for the opportunity to present her cards to guests at KK on her behalf, and that we honor them as gifts. And in the end we were even able to rope the elusive card lady in for a meal! We were delighted at the opportunity to serve her.
One of the highlights of the day came at the end when tireless volunteer Usha, a 60-something Himalyan trekker, long-distance bicyclist, and loving soul served a table of enthusiastic guests. Squeezing 7 into a table for four, the group clearly was comfortable as a family. And their spirit and love moved us to make them part of the extended KK family, tagging every person at the table with a Peace Chain. The group, who nicknamed themselves Wu Tang Clan :), returned the love with a chant of 'Usha, Usha!' for their lovely server and finished with a virtuoso freestyle rap performance for the entire volunteer crew. One of the group members waved goodbye on his way out, exclaiming, "You guys are the stuff rainbows are made from!" Indeed, a great way to describe the love, compassion, and enthusiasm this particular group served with today. It was a joy to be a part of it.
--Mr. P :) on Nov 2, 2010