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Service was Joy, indeed!!!

We started our day with the quote from Rabindranath Tagore-
     I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was
     service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

10 enthusiastic Volunteers together were there to experiment ourselves whether "Service was really a joy!!!"
The day was slower than other KK Sundays which gave all the volunteers time to connect more closely with Guest and fellow volunteers.

After Volunteering three times in KK together, finally I got to know that Natalie was born and raised in homehown nearby charleston,IL where I spent 6 years of good old college life. Thanks to the Slow day! That totally made me nostalgic about my college life. All of sudden I started to miss my college life, which once I used to call "Home away from Home" A small midwest town, full of big hearted people.

Then I get in tune with conversation with guest team brought by our regular volunteer Valarie who were just visiting DC from NY. This is my best part of KK when our regular volunteers and guests bring their out of town guests to KK. A big testimony of our growing KK family! The relaxed and slow paced atmosphere really gave all the volunteers more opportunities to crack some conversation with many guests and fellow volunteers

Usually we always ask Guests to write the comments about KK but we took this opporunity of slow day to have some volunteers comments-

Here are some of the comments we receive from the volunteers -
  • I came in to volunteer without much energy and left with an abundance of it. I love volunteering at KK.
  • Thanks to call my fellow volunteers that were so genuinely kind. You all warmed my heart and soul. Thanks for listening & all the wonderful advice that you gave. I hope to see and volunteer with you all again in the future!
  • The group synergy at KK was amazingly unique as always. My aha monent was a reminder that in order to accept kindness with no awkwardness - as a gift, we have to give kindness with no alterior motive.
  • The highlight of my week and the reason I make the 30 minute drive. New friends & great experiences! I love you, KK!
  • Really lovely food, fellowship and comradery. It WAS A JOY TO SERVE. Am grateful for this opportunity.
in service,

--Krishna on Apr 18, 2010


What the guests wrote on April 11

How I practice stillness


  1. Sit and look at beauty. Eg: flowers or a flower. Notice the color, shape of petals. Enjoy the beauty, fragrance.
  2. Lie still and think of nothing, do nothing. Be quiet.
  3. Listen. Be silent and listen for the divine


Be Still.


Watching my breath and slowing it down as needed.


When we arrive at our center action is precise and still love.







Stillness is pure vibration


Stillness has a lot to do with my six senses- if I absorb sights, sounds, flavors, etc, without mindfulness during the day, then when it’s time to sit, my mind will not fall still Meditation reveals what I’ve been doing with my sense when I’m not meditating.


While reading, waiting, during prayer at church, while sleeping, bird watching, Quaker meeting.


Going out for a serene hike in the wild.


Real stillness is not separate from (awareness) illumination and there is clear illumination when when there is perfect stillness (silence). In great enlightenment both are always present.

Actually they are here even now and everywhere.






So that

I may

Set thee upon

A rock


Stillness..helps me be present.


Those moments before falling asleep when there’s nothing to see or do but let your mind wander until it’s tired…


Stillness is a young child sleeping soundly.


Into an ever smaller point of stillness.


I accept the situation that happens before me, if I do not agree with it, I will communicate with acceptance and compassion, that’s how I practice stillness in daily life.


If the universe is infinite

Ever point is its center



Stillness remains a mystery.



I practice transcendental meditation which I learned in 1975. For about 20 years I meditated every day. Then I stopped and also did other prayer and meditations. I just started transcendental meditation again and will mediate once a day. It’s as good as ever! I feel refreshed and calmed. Stillness is crucial in these turbulent, noisy times.


Now so clear

Deep breath no fear

Ear just hear

One mind my mirror

Self so still

Still self-less


-Try to listen more than talk

-Spend one hour a day quietly. Contemplating or no distraction

-mindful daily awareness- “stillness in movement”


To be still is easy

Yet I cannot go there

I am afraid of that space

Who will come there?

Will you come there?
Why should I meet you?
In my fluttering heart

Exists akaasha

A molecule burst faster from stillness

What will we bring?

This earth is heavy already

Too much with the world and us

I do not want stillness

I want to not be here.


Go into the inner room of the soul, close the door and rejoice in the love of myself.


Appreciating the beauty in each moment.


-Listen to Eckart Tolle

-3 deep conscious breaths at any point throughout the day

-meditate/chigung in morning




Mom sleeping




--Iris Mallgren on Apr 11, 2010

Easter photos

--Cheryl Cruz on Apr 8, 2010

Woman From Switzerland

A woman visiting from Switzerland asks if she can take a menu back home with her, to show her community what's possible.  A guest tells a first time server, "You are perfect."  Another volunteer created a huge chalk-board concoction on which we share the theme for the day.  This week, loads of people transcribed the memorable "best advice you ever got" found anywhere from their parents to bathroom walls.  A guest excitedly does a show-and-tell with the Maitre-D: "Last week, I picked up this Smile Deck card that said cook a meal for someone and share a joke.  So I did that."  And then she proceeds to share the joke. 

Susi typed up some of these quotes:  "Love is freedom.  Always leave a place cleaner than you found it.  A stitch in time saves nine.  Whatever you do, love yourself! A great relationship = good communication, good love, and good sex. :)  Never stop having fun! Breathe: You are alive!  No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.  No one can take anything from you if you don't give it to them. To this above all to thine own self be true. Be a good listener. Be healthy, love, peace, and compassion and one will create this! Go gently. Don't procrastinate. Be grateful. Life is gift. Kill them with kindness."

Photo of the remarkable crew from the previous week:

--Matire-D on Apr 6, 2010

Music and Lyrics

Today was my first time volunteering at Karma Kitchen and I absolutely loved it....we had about 126 guests come in for lunch today...I got the opportunity to serve them and meet some really wonderful people, who by the end of the day became my friends...

Today's theme was HARMONY and we asked our guests:
A line from a song or song title that they would like to share with us....some guests shared song lyrics, while some others shared really nice thoughts/quotes

Here are some comments from our guests:


  • Bach (B ACB): Not the most elegant string of 4 notes, but every time I find it, whether in Bach or Schoenberg, it makes me happy, like I've found a secret door in the corner of a garden somewhere and it makes me happy
  • Speak happiness. Sad enough without your woes [Bob Marley]
  • Part of me laughs, part of me cries. Part of my wants to question why. Why is there joy and why is there pain? Why is there sunshine and the rain? One day you're here, next you're gone. No matter what, we must go on. Just keep the faith and let love lead the way [The Spice Girls]
  • Here comes sunshine
  • Just up in the club, just broke up. Doing my own little thing
  • Only heaven knows, so the story is told. His hat seemed to me, like an old halo. And though his wings, they were never seen. I thought he walked on water
  • A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history [Gandhi]
  • If you have a nightmare, it doesn't mean you stop dreaming [Jill Scott]
  • Out beyond the area of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there... where words make no sense. Even the words "each other" have no meaning. - paraphrased from Rumi
  • The live music was beautiful today
  • When my world is shaking, heaven stands. When my heart is breaking, I'm always in your hands
  • Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all
  • Now we rise. We are everywhere
  • May all that we do flow from us like a river - no forcing and no holding back.
  • you are all beautiful in your service
  • And the Butthole Surfers said, "It is better to regret somethig you did, than something you didn't do" Yeah, we were young... and we, looking, looking... looking for that deep kick...well seen 'em come, seen e'm go
  • So toss away stuff you don't need in the end, but keep what's important and know who's your friend

--Kinjal on Mar 28, 2010

Paying kindness forward with love

"Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared."  - Gautama Siddharta

I believe this quote above applies to generosity as well and we were able to witness just that this past Sunday at Karma Kitchen.  Eleven of us candles pooled our internal flame with 109 patrons and created a world of generosity to be rippled out into the world.  We all took part in contributing our hearts and effort and we got to see some amazing outcomes as a result.

Here are some of the extraordinary transformations that happened this past Sunday:

There were two ladies who were seated expecting the Taste of Himalayas meals.  They were so touched when they realized what KK is about that they moved tables in the middle of their lunch to accommodate a group so they could all sit together and even bussed their own table after they completed their meal!

Some of our veteran KK volunteers (Eva and Hafeez) were standing in line and noticed the chaotic atmosphere and joined in to help bus tables and later on took care of the operations as the volunteers ate their food.

Another KK veteran (Jazz) brought his own display chalkboard as we were lacking our own.  He came up with a theme of Rebirth in accordance with the first day of spring and encouraged patrons and volunteers to draw their thoughts.

We had two chocolate chip cookie chefs on Sunday!  One was a volunteer and the other was a patron.  The patron required her bowl back only to find that her bowl returned filled with the cookies made by the volunteer.

There was a woman who decided to celebrate her birthday at the Taste of Himalayas but was happy to find KK in its place for lunch and continued with her birthday plans.  One of her friends, Brian, sang her a Happy Birthday song in the Navajo language.  It turned out, he knew a collection of Sioux and Navajo songs and sang two songs for KK.  This experience is best described by Pancho's eloquent story titled: "The New Spring of Humanity":

I am always astonished what a difference we can make just by being kind.  It costs nothing, it takes less energy than to be negative, and we have an unlimited supply of it.

Thank you to all of the volunteers as this day was made only possible by you all.  One of our goals here is to promote good will and kindness to others.  Your unconditional kindness and giving this past Sunday was the reason for the mentioned transformations of people.  The patrons came in with one type of thinking and left with a more positive and open type of perspective that encompasses compassion for others.  We were able to witness these transformations in others and perhaps yourselves and there will be other changes out there that you will not get to witness but that you all were responsible for. 

Navajo_Sioux Song.jpg   
KK crew 3_21_10.jpg  


--From the heart on Mar 27, 2010

The New Spring of Humanity

The equilibrium between day and night, when the light of the Sun warms more and more the surface of one of Earth's hemispheres ... it's an equinox. It is the start of a new Spring.

And with a new Spring, especially at higher latitudes, another Renewal of our spirits (this week's theme). Karma Kitchen witnessed, once again, the magic of community and healing. Not once, not twice but three (non-consecutive) times, we all listen to the wisdom emanating from Native American chants. Celebrating the life of a person, a birthday, in Dakota language. I closed my eyes the three times and I felt as our brothers and sisters from the Dakota 38 Reconciliation Ride were there with us. But this time the songs were sang by a Caucasian man who told us before the last performance:

"I learned this song from a Sioux elder to welcome Spring. To respect our women, we all are the creation of a woman, and to love our children."

Healing was on the air. The Spring of Forgiveness and Reconciliation permeated the restaurant. As he closed his eyes, he became an instrument of something indescribably powerful. This was not a "white" man anymore. I was not a "brown" listener any more. Somehow, this person was claiming his full humanity, and we were riding the wave with him. He could rest comfortably in the privilege that come with being white, or man, but he chose to be a human being.

Warm thanks to the Karma Kitchen family for holding another space of the New Spring of Humanity.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin,

"Little Bull" (aka Pancho)

--Pancho on Mar 22, 2010

Sharing is caring.

The Karma Kitchen is such a great place. Here's the shirt Praveen gifted me.


--K. on Mar 8, 2010

Birthday Gifts That Keep on Giving

When his mom insisted on giving him a birthday gift, MJ tells her: "Mom, I'd love for you to volunteer at Karma Kitchen."  So yesterday, she did and was simply ecstatic after 7 hours of hard labor.   Incidentally, it was Praveen's birthday too and Elad led the whole restaurant to a collective song offering; a guest had commented that Praveen's Jimi Hendrix shirt was really cool, so Praveen borrowed another t-shirt, took off his (favorite) t-shirt and gave it to the unknown guest with a note: "On birthdays we usually receive gifts, but my birthday is more special because I get to give a small gift.  Please laundry before use." :)

Another volunteer was going through a rough patch and almost cancelled, but then emailed back after the shift: "You have no idea how much your smiles and love helped me today and gave me strength for the week and more."  Matthew, a young investment banker from the East Coast, wrote: "Is the positive dynamic and rapport among volunteers like this on most weeks?"  If we're all growing in generosity together, how can it not be? :)

Based on our theme, we asked guests to "Take a moment to share a moment."  Many wrote.

There are such rare moments that I live in the moment.  And so sad that is.  Because some of those are the most ecstatic of life.  Great friends, good people, great food, sunny day, how incredible is my life right now.

The whole restaurant erupting to sing "Happy Birthday" to an unknown volunteer--the act of sharing in another person's happiness--a true living in the moment "moment" for me to see.  Love the cheerful, happy and selfless environment of KK.  Will always come back for the joyous experience.

Letting go.  Allow the universe to fully realize the music of your soul--and allow yourself to bask in its acceptance.

Life is short, the world is big.  It is not enough to only focus on the "I".  With opportunity comes responsibility to help others and give back.  Sad is the man who has everything but gives nothing, for he is truly disconnected.

Doing what is right for people, like sharing a story in passing on the street with a stranger can change my day.  I love sharing an old experience like it's new.

Taking in the significance of every tiny miracle happening around us all the time.

I think quite often it becomes so easy for us to live caught up in the everyday fuzz of things, that we forget to just be content with what is.  Stopping to smell flowers, stopping to smile at a memory or another person passing down the street.  It seems if more people put off good energy in their everyday life, other people would soak it up and give it back to even more people.  I guess it's almost the same as generosity.  If someone does a small thing to make you happy, it will make you want to do good on others.

To be happy with whom and what I have in my life.

Living in the moment is living for other people.

Just another Sunday at Karma Kitchen, with 120 people we would now call friends. :)

--Random Observer :) on Mar 8, 2010

KK-DC sets a record (for itself)!

This weekend, Karma Kitchen in DC served 107 guests including a large group from the Vegetarian Society of DC, a meeting of people interested in Source for Change, and an energetic group of kids who were part of the Buckingham Youth Brigade in Virginia. This was the highest number of guests we have ever served in DC and it was an amazing experience.

We had a crew of 12 with many first time volunteers and it was great to see the relationships and synergy build throughout the day.

While we were going through the comment cards, we came across one which really spoke to the Karma Kitchen experience.

"The spirit of giving is possibly the only universal quality that has been present through human history. Thank you for continuing this eternal link of humanity. Your kindness has warmed a soul."

--Aparna on Mar 7, 2010

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