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Felt Like Old Friends

Dear KK-Berkeley Crew of Jan 17th,

Thank you for a wonderful time, serving together at Karma Kitchen.  We all felt like old friends, although it was the first time we were all serving together!

As I reflect on the time back, I first think of the powerful couple minutes of silence that we shared at the end.  Then, as we read random "blessings" that people had left behind, the beautiful tapestry of noble thoughts was clearly evident.  And all of our 94 guests enjoyed that space because of Puri's reconnection with her Maitre-D groooove, Kye's unflappable equipoise while interfacing, (not-really-)shy-Chris truly being our "savior" (and photographer), Jassu seamlessly rolling from back to overcome her fears in the front, Sharanya's wowing us not just with her plating but her song, Bhoutik's joyous energy radiating well beyond the no-complaints bracelets that he gifted each of us, :) and Sundos's calming be-the-contentment peace that held so many pieces together.  And then there were the was-this-really-your-first-time volunteers: Yvette's unstoppably radiant smile, Sam's infectious happiness, and Badri's dish-washing marathon (with a sprinters speed!).  What fun!  Thank you.

At one point, Sharanya came in the back and said, "There's a fellow on the table who has serious questions about the concept."  After some conversations, and just breathing in the ambiance, that same fellow decides to sign up as a volunteer and then offer up a song to the whole restaurant!  On another table, a woman with a shaved head and monastic inclinations said she couldn't believe such a thing was being attempted -- and after some powerful stories, I just asked her to look around ... Denise Zabalaga happened to walking by that table and Susan Schaller happened to sitting at the table across from them and then they had just discovered Smile Cards.  Such stories can easily rock anyone.  And those subtle transformations adds up to an  ambiance that rocks even more people, including each one of us!

I use the phrase "thank you" ... but really, the joy of being collective instruments for such small and invisible moments of goodness ... is beyond words.  Still, thank you. :)

--Maitre-D :) on Jan 22, 2010

More Blessings :)

It was a honor to serve at Karma Kitchen with all of you. :)

Below are the "blessings" that guests shared and Aditya's transformation song -- forgive me for the terrible camera handling.

- May the spirit of kindness and generosity be felt by your family & new blessing (baby)
- Many blessings to you and your wonderful journey through parenthood. May you be shown the many wonders of the world through your child's eyes. May you continue to find those beauties of giving, like I have found here at Karma Kitchen.
- To baby! May your life be filled with love, happiness, and joy. Always!
- This is such a wonderful experience. Those who participate may begin to see and understand the many ways a gift economy and a love economy can transform our greed / profit economy. May all of us be blessed to share in a positive future for all creatures.
- We are blessed to have lived during the 20th Century because of the affect of Gandhi, and later Cesar Chavez, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, has had on our lives. All of them prophets! :)
- May the blessings of RETURN nourish the blessing of new beginning (that is) as the new life begins may there be many returns from the fruits of the parents.
- Many blessings to the baby's family and the new family that will be born from it.
- Blessings upon us ALL, from the ALL, to the ALL with gratitude.
- When joy arrives in a small package, there is nothing greater.
- I wish you a healthy & a happy baby & many years of joy.
- Blessings to the baby and the family. May the baby live in a world free of war, conflict & violence, and know peace and love and justice as the ultimate reality!
- May you shine generosity and light!
- May your baby be blessed with excellent health and be surrounded with love, patience, compassion, and happiness. :-)
- Blessings to baby love. May your parents raise you slowly and calmly that you may be a blessing to your world.
- May you be a light in this world...awake and present, full of passion and grace. I feel blessed to have come to this place today -- to experience real gratitude -- may your baby be joyful and reap the many rewards of your gift to the world.
- Babies are all Blessings! Hope yours is especially so! PS. from Melbourne, Australia
- Dear Baby,  Welcome to the world. I wish you lots of affection and a wild imagination.
- Have fun realizing the best path possible, with the most fun too!
- New life is always a blessing, the newness within ourselves that reaches effortlessly the divine, the perseverance of children that reaches eventually our goals. From an expectant mother with a newborn, may your way be paved with abundance. :)
- May you enjoy the beauty, love, & light together as a family!
- Hello little lovie ~ Hope your day is full of laughs and milk and tummy rubs. Love to you and your family.
- Hope that life gives you just enough to dream and to learn and to feel fulfilled.
Happy MLK JR. Day!


--Bhoutik on Jan 21, 2010

Haiti Relief - Sunday, Jan 24, 2010

Dear all,

Continuing last week's Haiti Relief fundraiser (we are donating part of our surplus to Doctors without Border), Karma Kitchen DC will donate ALL the donations received on Sunday, January 24th, 2010 to Haiti Relief efforts.  We will take a quick survey during the lunch on Sunday which organizations we should donate. 

Please stop by Karma Kitchen this Sunday to support Haiti Relief.

--Aya on Jan 21, 2010

Karma Kitchen Blogged!

 My new friend and teacher, Levita, blogged her experience at Karma Kitchen.  It is always nice to know people enjoy their time at KK!!B6151A55AF50FE9F!396.entry

Now as our one-year anniversary is approaching, we welcome more volunteers, guests and ideas to bump up a notch!  Stay tuned for our anniversay celebration information!

--Aya on Jan 21, 2010

Blessings at Karma Kitchen

Last week's crew smiled through an incredible afternoon that included beautiful song offerings by servers in honor of a guest's birthday, an impromptu cheer for the water-repair-man (yes the water supply did stop working for a bit -- and yes it was eventually fixed :)), not to mention a special table activity that yielded heartwarming results -- guests were invited to write a blessing for the soon-to-be-born child of one of the founder/volunteers of Karma Kitchen DC!

Here are some of the 'blessings' that people shared:

Bless you little one, with sunshine, warmth, smiles, love, hugs, giggles and a beautiful life full of abundance ... May you hear yourself clearly ... True wealth is good health and wise ways ... Life is a great place to explore; I recommend trying out music, ice-cream and hugs and moving on from there ... Just do it dude ... may each face you meet have smiles and stars in their eyes; may each embrace tell you how welcome and needed and appreciated you are for being with us ... may your child grow up to be guided by the wisdom of ancients ... that your life is full of music ... may you surrender to the divine light all around you ... may your child embrace science! ... joy, grace, love ... heavenly father, help us remember that we are all your children ... let your light shine brightly ... a little soul coming to dance with life ... As you will be growing up, so will humanity and you will embody this! ... may you appreciate the gift of color ... may you leave this world a better place ... east-coast-baby: yeah! ... may your early and later years be filled with laughter ... stay healthy, go organic ... may the challenges you face inspire grace and humbleness ... wishing you restful nights on a supportive bed of generosity ... may you be granted the wind rushing through your hai and the companionship of the warm earth and red leaves and a peaceful, tolerant, and diversly bustling world.

And this is Katie favorite, all from one sheet of paper:

I bless you to birth the world that lives in the secret innermost chamber of your heart, that the beuaty, truth & loving compassion of your soul song inspire multitudes to join in ego-dissolving harmonies liberating the ecstatic spirit of blissful union with the creator for all beings to celebrate.  Maybe it be so!

Not to be out down, :) here's a photo of us volunteers blessing Karma Kitchen, at the end of our joyous shift:

--Dishwasher on Jan 15, 2010

All Will Be Well (Audio!)

I can't tell you all how wonderful and amazing it was to share those six hours together on Sunday. :-) I'm looking forward to many, many more.

And people were asking for it, here is the formal version of the song I sang:

All Will Be Well:

Love, Katie

--Katie D. on Jan 12, 2010

Only At Karma Kitchen

Yesterday at Karma Kitchen ... servers were up front, the restaurant was pretty full right at the get go, and one of the plates weren't plated right ... so Krista volunteered to eat it herself.  As she starts, we all feel like joining in ... and we do ... except that instead of feeding ourselves, we started each feeding each other!  Only at Karma Kitchen!

--Lachmin on Jan 11, 2010

Intentions For the Coming Year

It was a delight to share time together, in the spirit of service.

For me, Karma Kitchen is a place to practice generosity and seeing so many such moments yesterday deeply enriches my personal journey.  Thank you.  In particular, I think of that old woman who came in, gifted Heather a hand-made card (with a dollar in it!) that took her several hours to make, and will never know the impact it will have.  I think of Meredith who made the quadruple(!) ginger cake and will never see all the beautiful smiles it created (although we tried to recreate some of those smiles).  I think of Cristina, who explained in her broken English that while she is plating she is really peppering that food with love and how "that's all that matters".  Steve's sisters, who were delighted to see him serve them (for the first time ever, they claimed :)), were touched beyond words when they found out their plate was served by a visiting mother from Mexico.  I think of a  college student, who heard about Karma Kitchen in her USC class months ago, and "had to visit" to believe that there were people who care so deeply about the spirit of gifting.  I think of the Physics professor who didn't want to eat alone, and how Victor stepped up and spent 2 hours sharing a meal with him.  I think of Mariette who brought gifts from India for volunteers to "tag" random guests; inside each little hand-woven bag, she placed a hand-written quote that touched many guests.  I think of those random people who walked into Karma Kitchen, not knowing what it was, and who are now already connected with a group of folks brainstorming to create KK-Chicago! 

And I think of the conversations Rishi had with the guests on his table, and the elated "catch up" conversations that Lachmin and Dipa had while plating in the back, and the smiles Tania constantly served with her orders, the dishes that Andrew and Arthur silently kept washing, and the agility with which Aumatma handled the "interface", the meticulousness of Moses that underscored all our coordination (and our finish at 4PM sharp!), and the ease with which Pancho filled any and every role.  Thank you, all.

One can never truly measure the external impact of such work, but it's quite easy to feel the internal transformation it creates in our own hearts.  Although I didn't end up with an actual role (outside of kheer-eater :)), I was still touched simply to witness all these ripples of goodness set in motion. 

To give you a flavor of the "intention" that people brought into our shared space, here were some of the New Year's Resolutions that people shared:

My intention for the next year is to ... affect the world in a positive way ... focus more on what I need than what I want ... show that we can all live as one world instead of alone as each individual ... immerse myself in everything I do ... do what I want to do (live, laugh, make people laugh, travel) ... experience my time away from the US ... to do things I'm uncomfortable with ... to take deep breaths ... suiting up and showing up for life everyday ... look for peers ... to be a little less analytical ... stop introspecting so much ... rise to the occasion ... help our children find the way ... joy, happiness ... find abundance in all aspects for the benefit of all ... be a good steward of my yard, pets, and the ocean ... find contentment in the life I'm living, not in the life I think I want ... be ready for change.
For all that and more, thank you, for playing your part.

Oh, and attached are smiles from Cristina's camera:

--Maitre-D :) on Dec 28, 2009

Effortless Synergy

Thank you guys for a rockin' time serving 106 guests last Sunday.

It is hard to imagine that so many of us were meeting each other for the very first time!  Kevin admitted that at work he's usually checking his watch every half hour, but he never once realized that it was six hours at Karma Kitchen!   Dilip was volunteering for the first time and was stunned to friends amongst the random guests that were walking in.  Michael kept stumbling into serendipities as he served the logistically complicated community table (and has already published a "guide" to make life easier for future servers).  Aka's plating magic was solid and has already signed up as a Dishwasher for Jan 3rd!  Jazz came in, despite being on 2 hour sleep, and wondered out loud: "I used to hate doing all this when I was getting paid for it, but I absolutely love doing it at Karma Kitchen!"  Lachmin's Dad just returned from ER but she said she couldn't miss Karma Kitchen, because she had to refuel herself.  Birju made his travels plans to NY in a way that he could serve at Karma Kitchen, to complete his home-run of having served in DC, LA, India and now in the bay-area.  And we had a lot of "cool under pressure" people that made everything go smoothly -- Laura's dessert, Chinmay's dishwashing and Aumatma's interfacing!

It was no wonder that a guest asked: "How come all of you have such big smiles?"  It was no wonder that a college Physics professor comes over to a server after he's already paid and asks, "I'm just feeling very grateful.  Is there a way I can add $5 to my offering?"  It was no wonder that when we tagged guests with Mariette's India-goodies, at least one guest couldn't hold back her tears of gratitude.

And it was no wonder that after all that work, our faces were radiating with a profound sense of joy:

Thank you for taking time out to practice generosity together.  I, for one, am certainly better off because of it. 

As Jazz quoted his KK buddies in DC: "If it's too good to be true, it's probably Karma Kitchen."

--Maitre-D :) on Dec 22, 2009

Karma Kitchen: Much More Than A Meal

Dear Friends,

Funny how certain moments in a day stand out with such clarity. The rainbow seen from a car window en route to Karma Kitchen yesterday. The sight of the crew sitting in a silent circle as I walked in, the elderly artist who dropped off yet another handful of bright blue handmade blessing cards with just one request, "I want to remain anonymous". Meredith touching us with the wise words from her mentor that had brought her here, "When you're not certain of what to do -- serve."

And then there's Sharanya's swift and sweet tutorial for the new platers, MJ describing how a family of five stumbled upon Karma Kitchen and really "got it", a long-time guest dropping in with a plate of homebaked cookies for the volunteers, Briggs, Runa, Yash and Jazz taking fearless turns at the tandoor -- we've never had so many volunteers turn pro at naan making before![Runa you Rocked as interface, Yash your humility in service is humbling, Briggs -- have to say -- KK DC must Really miss you! And Jazz thanks for juggling tables, dishes and -- pay-it-forward lemons!]

My quintessential KK moment came, hearing Viral calling out to an older couple as they left, "I hope you enjoyed your meal", only to have the man turn and look him directly in the eye and say, "Oh it was much more than a meal".

Then there was hard-working Saumil truly relishing the look on a guest's face as Karma Kitchen was explained, Tom in between dishes and tables, orchestrating two cakes coming out of the kitchen with lit candles -- one for a guest the other for our very own plater. Birthday girl Aishwarya and Rochelle's picture perfect plating (they had it down to a science --- exactly two peas on each sculpted mound of rice :)), Sundos who nailed the difficult art of ladling out mango lassi while creating dessert plates none of us could match. At the end of it all I couldn't help but think back to Tom's fun and fervent morning thought that made us all laugh, "I hope today's going to be worth it."  ( boy was it ever!).

An extra special moment was the vibrating stillness in the restaurant just after Francesca's beautiful music stopped --- as MJ pointed out in a text message later that evening, 'the level of peace she achieved during her singing resonated with the theme for Karma Kitchen today."

Living in the Moment.

Thank you all for the moments shared and lived together. We hope you will be back to serve with us again sometime.

Attached is our crew picture (with Tom and Briggs in bodyguard mode ;))

In service and smiles,

--Pavi on Dec 14, 2009

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