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Ashton Kutcher? And Be Love. :)

Thanks for a smooth, 92-person offering today!  Attached is our group photo -- w/out our beloved Valerie (hope you're well, Val -- I mean, Valerie :)).

Some of my highlights ...

  • Valerie hearing about us from via a Twitt by Ashton Kutcher?!?
  • Sura coming in with her hand-made "one-dollar cards" and feeling like she's an instrument of a larger force.  See attached photo.
  • Susan offering a wrapped card, with an offering of her photo and a heartfelt blessing for the KK crew.
  • Couple coming in for their three-week marriage anniversary (they had apparently read my wedding vows too!), and offerings eight cookbooks written by the their friend.
  • Two ladies delaying their flight so they could experience Karma Kitchen.
  • Karen's gift of "Be Love" bracelets that everyone -- including the chefs -- was wearing.
  • An offering of teaching sign-language to anyone.
  • At least 4 tables walking out because they felt like eating meat. :)
  • A tennis pro (he's *really* good) who offered to play tennis with me anytime. :)

And of course, Meredith's wonderful theme of nourishment (see third photo attached), with comments like:

I am nourished by ... my cat, who always paws right on my when I'm freaking out ... a good book on a cold day wrapped in a cozy blanket, open hearted conversation over soup, a bike ride with the sun on my face, a drum beat that moves my body, a smile from a stranger, gardening, and this meal ... psycho-therapy ... by the sight of young people like Myles participating in Karma Kitchen ... worship in community ... horses ... chocolate ... by the happiness of my beautiful wife and daughter ... connection with other life ... when my son 7, he asked a face painter to paint him as the sunrise; the memory of his picture of a beaming sunrise still nourishes me ... being the gift ... mom's food ... good company ... small acts of kindness ... whispher of trees ... individuals who cultivate global awareness in consciousness expansion and sustainable living ... meditation ... great spirit ... good food. :)
Thanks again for volunteering!

--JZ on Oct 11, 2009

The Most Powerful Advice You've Ever Received

The week before last, the theme-of-the-day at Karma Kitchen was "Wisdom" and as a Step-It-Up activity guests were asked to share the most compelling advice that has ever come their way. Karma Kitchen volunteer Dae Houlihan created this beautiful collage out of their answers...

--Karma Kitchen Team on Oct 6, 2009

The Buoyancy of Inter-connection


Dear Friends,

When Karma Kitchen saw an unusual number of last-minute crew cancellations last week, three last-minute heroes (Eva, Sue and Ami) stepped forward and a "lean, mean" crew of nine took charge this Sunday with a buoyancy and ease that first-timer Neesha couldn’t help but remark on.

So many wonderful stories from the day --- visitors from Hawaii, LA, India and more! A woman drops by with beautiful handcrafted “Blessing packets” each with a message of affirmation and a humble gift inside, another guest offers up a bluesy rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot and invites the restaurant to sing along, roommates who haven’t seen each other in years meet randomly at the door, an anthropology student stays three hours talking to guests and volunteers (research for a six-week study on Karma Kitchen). Next week he’s on the crew :) At Karma Kitchen you never know who you are going to serve – or who’s going to serve you.

It was hard not to be grateful for all the inter-connections that surfaced during the day (and yes that was our theme!). Susan Louie came in as a guest and left after serving a full, impromptu shift as a volunteer. Effervescent Eva served a spiritual teacher at one table and received special counsel about her own upcoming trip to Afghanistan (not to mention found a kindred spirit in fellow volunteer Susan B. who works with Afghani women), Susan generously offered to carpool into Berkeley early to assist with set-up, and served tables all the way through with her own special sparkle, Bhoutik a KK pillar was everywhere, doing dessert runs, pulling in backups, handling dirty dishes, even giving international student guests a breakdown of Karma Kitchen’s spirit in Chinese :) Dipa who showed up despite an ankle brace plated radiantly through the whole afternoon, with Neesha at her side (now an official “old-timer”) quietly tuned in to the underlying beauty of the backend, Justine who touched us all with her presence and her decision to show up for generosity in a time of fresh loss, filling gaps on the back and front ends with ease, Ami who took on the role of Interface and rocked it in her unassuming way, Kye whose smooth competence, dedication and even-keel as a server or dishwasher make him such an asset to any crew – Thank you All for bringing your best to Karma Kitchen and serving whole-heartedly.

In celebration of all the myriad inter-connections, seen and unseen,


--Pavi on Oct 6, 2009

World Religion Class dines at Karma Kitchen

I’m a high school teacher in San Jose, teaching World Religions as a Senior Elective, and I’ve been going to Karma Kitchen infrequently for the past few years.  In teaching various faith traditions from around the world, the idea of “karma” certainly comes into the classroom discussion.  But, as you may know with seniors pre-occupied with their social circles and college applications, these inspiring words may fall on deaf ears; enter, Karma Kitchen. 

I strive to make my class as experiential as possible, so when a friend suggested I take my classes to Karma Kitchen to engage in the idea of “gift giving” I thought it was a great idea.  Three years ago, three students joined in the experience, which grew this past Sunday to 15 students!  Below you’ll read about ways in which a few students thought to pay-it-forward beyond Karma Kitchen.  Thank you everyone!


“I took the train home after school [so my dad] didn’t have to pick me up and could rest in the afternoon.” --Rajeev

“…Vacuuming the entire house would be a nice way to help my mother out because she does not have a lot of time to perform this task. After vacuuming the entire house, which did not take a long time, I decided to do everyone’s laundry in my house since it backs up quite a bit during the week days. Karma Kitchen does a great job of opening up their ideas to the public and with such great food, how could I not take them up on their offer to perform a random act of kindness.” --Matt

“I chose to participate in California Coastal Clean-up Day.” --Viet

“On Friday, I welcomed one of the new freshmen into my Filipino club. “ -- Stephen

“This was my first time tasting Indian food and it was delicious! I have made it a goal to do at least one good deed every day for the rest of my life basically. I was exhausted from this long weekend [and]… The second I got back, my cousin who is not yet able to drive needed to go to various stores to buy things she can use for when she moves out of our house in 3 months.” --Madu

“I woke up at around 8 o’clock in the morning about helping a elderly woman rearrange furniture and organize some cabinets, as well as organizing old piano music, bank papers and help going through all of her late husband’s belongings.” --Eric

--Paul on Sep 28, 2009

Another Avocado Day at Karma Kitchen! :)

What an amazing Avocado of a day at Karma Kitchen! As Jazz pointed out during our opening circle Karma Kitchen is like that guacamole-giving fruit in that it is difficult to describe to someone who's never 'tasted' it before -- is something that needs experiencing in order to be understood. :-)

Thank you All for co-creating that experience for each other and for our guests this afternoon! As several people commented, the flow of the day was wonderfully smooth with everyone finding and swiftly filling gaps for each other in a crew that was unexpectedly two people short today (Shayan and Angel we missed you and hope everything is alright on your end!).

When people bring their parents-from-out-of-town to Karma Kitchen it's a testimony to the goodness they perceive here and want to share with their nearest and dearest, when a teacher brings a batch of his high school students here for the second week in a row it's proof of the quiet lesson we all spontaneously learn when encountering unconditional generosity, when a woman comes in with the next in an unbroken series of beautiful handmade photo-cards to gift us, when a server hears a table of two remark, "The whole world should run like this!", when a casual invitation to drop in on this pay-it-forward experiment to the random person stuck next to you in a line somewhere in the city on a Friday night results in them actually showing up amazed that they never knew this place existed, when paths that happen to cross on the other side of the country lead to certain people walking arriving at our doorstep in Berkeley, when a doctoral student with a crammed schedule drops by early in the morning to help set up and give a plating tutorial, when volunteers who come in already sleep-deprived and exhausted leave after 6 hours of hard work feeling despite it all oddly -- refreshed --- it's an unmistakable sign that something gloriously Avocado is happening :-)

--Pavi on Sep 28, 2009

Peace Is Something You Make

Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away. --Robert Fulghum

Last Sunday at Karma Kitchen the Theme-of-the-Day was Peace and guests who wandered through the door were invited to reflect on a simple question:

"Where do you find peace?"
Their thoughtful responses were collected collage-style they can be glimpsed in the photo -- and in the beautiful co-created poem below that weaves them together....

I find peace in
Sunshine and grass
Campfire, smoke
Night sky, silence
My mother, music, children
The sound of ocean waves


I find peace

Where there is unconditional love
Higher knowledge and awareness

I find peace sitting atop a mountain
Breathing. Watching the sunset,
Sunrise, feathered birds ...

I find peace when I see my love sleeping
The creation of a home
Sharing life with loved ones
Connection with the world

Peace comes with patience

In early morning
Swimming in the light of dawn
To feel like this always...

Let go completely and
You will be completely
At peace.

--Pavi on Sep 25, 2009

Karma Kitchen DC Potluck!

Karma Kitchen DC has been running for six months strong!  Today, we had our first ever Volunteer Appreciation event - a Potluck at the restaurant where we hold Karma Kitchen!  It was an abundance of food, friends, and fun!  Our amazing volunteers and guests brought dishes ranging from indian comfort food to exotic rice dishes to a vegan mousse pie and special Karma Kitchen cake!  Besides bonding over food at one long community table :), we mingled and took part in activities such as a community poem, Taboo, and riddles to work up our appetite!  The energy in the room was incredible - dedicated volunteers met regular guests, core team members re-connected with one another, and everyone got a chance to meet the wonderful restaurant owners, staff, and chef.

--Nirali and Aparna on Sep 22, 2009

Community table Berkeley

 Hi all, Lehua here.........I served a community table of 3 on Sunday and it was a magical experience. All 3 folks were always in such engaging discussion and my last visit to the table to give them there certificate that asked me to join and the rest is history. this is how it went, One of the gals said that she had been looking for my church and now as able to get there, the other woman was looking for woman of the same like that she could hang with and so was I and the other, and the one gal is a Catrina survivor and touched us all with her story of triumph. We will all come back together and continue the serendipitous energy. Life happens perfectly. I truly enjoyed all of you that day

--lehua on Sep 22, 2009

Shining Eyes at Karma Kitchen

Be Vocal In Times of Beauty we urged our guests a couple of Sundays ago. And they complied filling out the colored squares with reflections, perspectives, and instances of the beautiful in their own lives. Extracts of some of the wisdom, inspiration and insight they shared strung together is almost a poem unto itself:
Beauty is in the love you show towards others
In bluebirds on overcast Sunday mornings
In walks through unfamiliar cities
In neatly folded clothes
Beauty is best found when I am not looking for it
A child blowing bubbles into the breeze
A light cutting through the darkness
The heart knows Beauty is everywhere
Beauty is everything.
And this one from a lovely older couple who walked in at the tail end of the day -- firstimers to Karma Kitchen:
"Beauty is the inner joy shining through a delighted volunteer's eyes."
May our eyes and those of the people around us continue to shine :)

--Pavi on Sep 22, 2009

The Spirit of Karma Kitchen

I don't know how many noticed this, but yesterday just as orientation ended, a passerby's shopping bag handle snapped on the sidewalk right outside Karma Kitchen. As the woman scrambled to pick up her groceries, a frustrated "now-how-am-I-going-to-get-all-this-home" look on her face, one of our volunteers – Lehua, ran out to her car, "I have an extra shopping bag to give her," she said gleefully.

That's Karma Kitchen. Simple, everyday acts of kindness, opportunities that we all have access to -- right outside our windows. Yesterday was an amazing day at KK --- with the restaurant practically full twenty minutes after opening -- we served just under 100 guests by the end of the afternoon. Including a teacher and fifteen high schoolers from the South Bay, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, a banjo player celebrating his twin daughters' Sweet Sixteen, a magazine editor, a photographer, and a couple about to embark on a one-way service trip to Kenya ...The theme of the day was Peace, books and even a DVD by the Dalai Lama, Peace Pilgrim’s life story in her own words, a new compilation of Gandhi’s most powerful writing, inspiration scrolls and of course Joe’s Peace Chains were all part of the day’s offerings. “Where do you find peace?” as part of the day’s activity, tables were asked to share their answers with us. Look for a compilation of their answers on the stories section of the Karma Kitchen website soon!

--Viral on Sep 21, 2009

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