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Beauty is ... in the Eyes of the Waitress! :)

From Katie's oh-so-glorious song to the shaking-in-disbelief customer to the couple-in-tears, thank you for a wonderful Karma Kitchen yesterday!  It is because of the invisible leadership that people like Neil and Tom provide at the edges, and because of the commitment to generosity that all of you bring that such sacred spaces are created.

Our theme for the week was on beauty and here were just some of the thoughts that people shared ...

Beauty is ... in the eyes of the waitress :) ... being by the ocean on a beautiful day when the sun is shining ... when I feel my inner soul in others ... in my house ... my beloved dog (what else would i ever want?) ... when the dew drop falls into the ocean ... [math equation] ... the lines of an old man's face on the train in San Francisco ... when my mom was dying and I told her that I forgave her and that I was proud of her ... behind brick walls, in a beautiful palace filled with gardens and a rich history ... opportunity to worship before sunrise ... love and compassion one feels for all beings ... emerging leaves and fresh growth of spring and falling colors and decay of autum ... expressing gratitude and love everytime we feel it ... full moon last night ... my friend who can shine her light even with a debilitating illness ... studying symbolic logic ... [drawing of two cars with happy people!] ... the bus driver ... nature, friends, music, peace ... my nehphew's giggle ... Karma Kitchen ... you!
Thank you everyone!

--Maitre-D :) on Mar 1, 2010

I Have Enough -- Even on a Rain Day!

Last week's crew served up lots of guests on a rainy day, that included a child who came ready to offer gifts to Karma Kitchen, a professor from Stanford who spontaneously gifted us her book and a yoga teacher who was in tears listening to the stories of raw generosity that volunteers experienced.  The theme for last week was "I Have Enough", as guest shared five things they were content with.  One of the many responses was: "I have enough LOVE from my girlfiend, I have enough spiritual teachings to ROCK my life, I have enough inspiration to follow, I have enough community to play with, I have enough wonderful food to keep myself in vibrant health!"

--Maitre-D on Mar 1, 2010

Volunteering Valentines

It was Valentine's Day and yet a group of volunteers have their eyes closed trying to find their stillness before the chaotic rhythms of a day of serving takes place.

A guest made an appearance in the beginning and paid it forward right away by bringing some tulips to tag the guests with in lieu of Valentine's Day and our theme of the day: Renewal.  We saw the theme play out time and again throughout the day from massive waves of guests coming and going to a hurting child renewing her positive energy through a generous act by another guest.

The day started off slow but accelerated an hour into it to bring the day of three waves of guests.  These waves also proved to be generous by arriving at times when the previous wave was just leaving.  Therefore these waves of guests were generous with their impeccable timing and definitely the dishes crew that consisted of Keith and Pancho.  These two spoiled us into thinking we have an unlimited amount of dishes always at hand.

Lachmin and Joanna realized another world in KK of serving the guests.  They both along with Yvette and her everlasting smile, realized that KK is about serving guests extra helpings of generosity with a side of smiles which goes down extra smooth with a cup of mango lassi.

A large group that included six children came in from the park, with one of the girls crying from a bleeding lip.  She was calmed down as one the KK guests provided the grieving girl and her friends with finger puppets.  There is no band-aid that could have healed that lip faster than those finger puppets.  This is a direct result of the ambiance of generosity at KK.

First time platers, Jessica and Tammy, kept the servers on their toes by churning out those plates.  I noticed that they came up with an efficient method of keeping the peas (pun intended) on the mound of rice by putting the peas first followed by rice in the bowl before inverting it on the plate.

First time volunteer, Paul, was put in charge of the daunting task of interface which seemed to be a role he was born to do.  Usually naan is a bottleneck but not this time. Shannon showed an excellent performance in realizing what people want and making it readily available, that was the mango lassi.  Dipa blessed us with her savior role in bussing.  She has the patentable hook, which houses the naan baskets so they don't touch the dirty dishes.

Thank you!

In service and in health,

--MJ on Feb 23, 2010

KK DC's One Year Celebration!

Thank you to all of the volunteers and guests who have made Karma Kitchen such a lasting presence in the DC community.  One year later, it is running stronger than ever!  Below are the highlights from the one-year anniversary celebration.

Comments from the volunteer crew:

  • "I was quite impressed with the team’s synergy and each volunteer’s willingness to assist with other roles!"
  • "I could not stop smiling and everywhere I looked, I was greeted with another smiling face!"
  • "I enjoyed tagging another volunteer's aunt/uncle with some peace chains and seeing the joy in their expression." :)
  • "I truly learned why "moving from isolation to community" is a core principle of KK and exemplified that by building a community with the other volunteers."
  • "I realized that it truly does taste and feel better when it's made with love."

Comments from guests:

  • "This was a great experience as always.  The servers were very friendly and welcoming.  We also enjoyed the extra festivities for the anniversary.  Thank you so much."
  • "Happy 1st anniversary!  Thank you so much for making my day every Sunday."
  • "Happy one year!  We've been coming for the year and don't know what we'd do without KK in our lives.  Thank you to the volunteers and cooks - you brighten our Sundays!"
  • "Karma Kitchen really helps restore my faith in people.  I hope your Valentine's day is truly amazing because this has really shown me the love that people have for each other."
  • "We came here for the first time today.  Being Buddhists, we have always believed in good karma - it has been a great pleasure to be a part of this.  Keep up the good work!"
  • "We love this!  We are going to spread the three pillars of Karma Kitchen to Colorado.  See you on your second b-day..."

--Nirali on Feb 15, 2010

I Believe in Karma!

You don't have to eat at Karma Kitchen to pay it forward! Last weekend we had a guest come in for lunch. Whilst our MaitreD explained the concept our guest asked "So there is no meat?" Our Maitred graciously replied "No."  Our guest the said "I really believe in karma, and what you are all doing is a wonderful thing. But I need meat." The (nearly) guest opened his wallet, and left a generous donation for Karma Kitchen. Now that is paying it forward!

--Dipa V on Feb 7, 2010

You Rock!


It amazes me as how each week, all our volunteers find time in their busy schedules to come and serve together. Such was the case on the last day of January.

With two cancellations, we had Bhoutik and Lachmin step in at the last minute! And we thought phew! We have a full crew! However, we soon came to realize on Sunday that 3 of the volunteers were no-shows! How would we manage with a crew of 9?  Karma Kitchen is a place to practice generosity, and as we sat in our morning circle, the door opens, and in walks Tista! Our saviour for the day! The timing was perfect! 

Karma Kitchen creates a lasting memory for all who come. I am sure 8-year old Marcus will never forget this day. It was his birthday and the whole restaurant sang happy birthday to him. He will grow with this memory and I am sure when he turns 9, he will remember his 8th birthday! Either that, or he will remember the little dance (or jig) Moses did once we finished singing happy birthday! Thank you all for making his day so special!

The day started off very slow (the slowest I've ever seen it at KK) and then all of a sudden, I blinked and we were rushed off our feet Chris, Uma, Susan and Audrey served all our guests graciously and with endless smiles!  The food as always is yummy! However, the first feast is with the eyes and Lachmin and Annie did an awesome job of plating and presenting without any splatters on the side looked perfect!  Annie - you are a pro now! :) The desserts came out looking so professional and beautiful with the caramel sauce artfully drizzeled with patience and love by Tista looked amazing! I could have ate each one of those!  Bhoutik our super-duper dishwasher single handedly washed all the dishes! And not to forget Moses, our Maitre'D, who did an awesome job of making sure people were seated (especially when we had larger groups) and ensuring we finished on time! :)

Our theme of the day was messages - something inspiring or something which just made the recipient feel all nice and warm inside when reading it. The theme was in two parts. Firstly, guests could send a note to anyone else in the restaurant - anonymously or not! This worked well! Even Moses and our Chefs received notes! One guest received two anonymous notes from other guests!  The second was a note which would be passed onto another guest on Valentines Day!  To share one with you: "The very act of generously giving of one's self-- through service, through word, through wealth-- is simultaneously a blessing for the giver and the receiver. The proof of that through such a simple and powerful act as this-- the Karma Kitchen-- is no exception. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful gift with us. You Rock!"

Attached is the group photo of the day taken by Chris. Thank you!

Karma Kitchen Crew for 31st January 2010.

--Dipa V on Feb 6, 2010

Snow Day for Karma Kitchen in Washington DC - we will be closed tomorrow (Sun, Feb 7th)

 As the DC/MD/VA area gets hit with upwards of 20 inches of snow, we have decided to cancel Karma Kitchen tomorrow in Washington DC only!

We hope this doesn't cause you any inconvenience and we hope to see you for KK DC's one year anniversary celebration next Sunday!

Warmly (literally),

Karma Kitchen DC Team

--Aparna on Feb 6, 2010

Different side of KK - Part 1

When we say Karma Kitchen, the focus is more towards participations, connection and interaction between volunteers and guests. Today I would like to write a story from little different angle.

What is the fundamental element if KK? -- People, generosity... and FOOD!  And the delicious food doesn't magically appear on guests' tables.  In KK DC, 4 amazing cooks downstairs support the KK foundation. When we don't know whereabouts in the restaurant, these are the people we rely on, too.

Meet Saila, Santosh, Mona and Krishna. Mona is the head chef for the restaurant.  While she is absent on vacation in Bangladeh, Saila has been in charge of cooking. I am not a vegetarian, but Saila and Mona's dishes make me wonder why I should bother to eat meat? I love their dishes.  Then, Santosh, the naan master, bakes mouth-melting naan. I can never
leave the restaurant without his naan. "naan for Aya" - this is my routine order besides sending orders from the tables.

They are relaxed, reliable crew and spend time with volunteers downstairs mingling. Some people have the misconception of downstairs as a dungeon but it is not!  It is a hidden fun place for volunteers.  In the dining area, volunteers show some professionalism in front of customers.  Downstairs is the place for the volunteers to relax, take a break and enjoy conversation with other volunteers and cooks. 

I would like thank Saila, Santosh & Mona for their hard work, constant support and kind welcome to our volunteers every Sunday.

Next week, I will write a story about another hidden gem in the success of KK (and Krishna will be talked about more there).


Saila (above) and Santosh (below)

--Aya on Feb 1, 2010

Spreading The Spirit of KK in India!

Inspired by your example, and a joint trip by Nipunbhai (Karma Kitchen) and Jayeshbhai (Seva Cafe), we've started bringing this gift-economy concept to Pune, India!  Thank you for the continued stories ... it is touching lives in many other parts of the world.

Last week, we held another Seva Cafe event at a local restaurant ... that was magical, and was written up by the local papers as well.  Here's a visual of our fantastic team that all put in 12 hours:

--Sheetal on Jan 26, 2010

Successful Haiti Relief Fundraiser

What a great Sunday at Karma Kitchen!  Our team ranged from a last-minute back-up (thank you!) to a first time volunteer to three Indicorps alums to three members of Aparna's family!  Despite the various backgrounds, we made a great team and served 44 guests together.  It truly was a pleasure to volunteer with you all! 

We are happy to report that we are donating all of the contributions we received $370 to Partners in Health.  The donation will be made this week.  We hope you enjoyed your experience and hope to see you again soon. 
Guest comments:
- Thanks so much - the food was wonderful; the company even better.  Thanks for bringing people together to make a difference
-The food was delicious and the host was so pleasant - we really enjoyed participating in KK
We hope you will join us for our one year anniversary celebration on February 14th!
We would like to hear from you how we can celebrate our anniversary!

--Nirali & Sala on Jan 26, 2010

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