Our First Karma Kitchen In Detroit!

Posted by Nilam Chauhan on Sep 20, 2015
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My heart is overflowing with gratitude and love as I reflect on our the first Karma Kitchen in Detroit -- and how its generosity touched so many of the Detroiters. Everyone not only accepted it whole heartedly, they reciprocated with loads of love and generosity!

In so many ways, Detriot is in its lowest period of many decades, but with collective blessings from around the globe (quite literally, many states of America, India, Canada, UK and more) we made a huge love impact in our local community!

Just two days before our pilot launch, someone anonymously sent us t-shirts with Karma Kitchen logo! At one point, we realized we didn't have any posters or sign boards. On Wednesday, three young girls from Albania walked in for our Awakin Circle, were touched the spirit of evening, heard the cross reference of Karma Kitchen and out of the blue, one of them asked, "Do you need posters made? My brother has a print shop!" Wow! Our need was heard. I was shocked and touched at the same time to receive this gift! To top it off, those three young girl signed-up to volunteer! (And boy, they were like angels -- some of us oldies really ended up needing the young blood to help us!) We didn't know much about social media, but Renee (who came to our Awakin Circle through Nimo) did all of our writing, printing and even created an Event on Facebook! :) She became our spokesperson. Similarly, Janet helped with dessert and decorations. With his restaurant business experience, Harry volunteered to anchor the kitchen. My ever supportive husband, Bharat, was a huge pillar. Meiko, founder of Pink Flamingo, supported us in every way. Renee's husband signed up to help at the wash station. Everyone just came together like that. It was almost as if a song of generosity was being played, and people just responded in perfect rhythm.

On the day of Karma Kitchen, the forecast for the evening was ... thunderstorm! :( Our was an outdoor event. :) But we still kept preparing and thinking positive. And guess what? Nature gifted us with most gorgeous, beautiful evening! Initially, we were thinking that 30-35 guests might come, but with the rain forecast, perhaps just half of them! Still we kept serving without attachment to the outcomes. Joy is in the giving, right? By 8:30PM, we had served 50 people!!!! Ammmmmazing response! We almost ran out of food!!

I personally had the honor of cooking some Indian food myself! I was remembering cooking with Harshida-ben in Santa Clara, and her open, positive, loving nature and passion to serve others -- and it helped me cook the best meal ever! The best compliment I heard was, "The food had an extra ingredient today, that made it so delicious. And that secret ingredient was LOVE!" Love was in the air.

Oh, and there was actually one other amazing thing.

As I was unloading the food from my car, a small pick up truck slowly inched towards us. Now, Pink Flamingo is in a rough neighborhood of Detroit, so I got a little nervous. But then, 3 young men got out of the truck -- with baskets and baskets of apples! It turned out that they saw a tree overloaded with apples, so they decided to pluck the apples and merrily give it away to people. Hearing their story, I was almost in tears. I asked them to join for dinner, and they did. It completed the full circle of giving. It was an incredibly heart warming moment.

Throughout the day, we answered questions on Karma Kitchen, shared about ServiceSpace, introduced Smile Cards and thanked everyone for the opportunity to serve. Guests were totally blown away as we handed them with $0.00 bill with hand-made ceramic key chain as a momento! :) It was a beautiful day. People hugged, many hung out till the end, many new connections were made over kindness, some wanted to volunteer next time, and practically everyone was awaiting the next Karma Kitchen!

Here are some photos from the day.

So much grace in accepting the gift and generously paying it forward with love. Thank you Detroit!! And thank you, all, for the encouragement to experiment in this way. I would've never imagined that we could've pulled this off in Detriot, but I probably should stop being surprised by the power of love to create miracles. :) 

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Comments (14)

  • Roshni Shah wrote ...

    So beautiful Nilam mom, your love inspires so many!

  • Audrey Lin wrote ...

    Amazing, NilamAunty!! We can feel all the love in your words-- sounds like a beautiful day! :)

  • Yoo-Mi Lee wrote ...

    Heart-opened and heart-warmed to hear this, Nilamaunty!

  • Sima Sanghvi wrote ...

    Wow, Nilam Aunty! Sounds like it was a beautiful, heart-opening experience for everyone involved. SO happy to hear about this, and thank you for being an inspiration for us all! <3

  • Amit Dungarani wrote ...

    Sooooo soooo happy to hear this Nilam Aunty! You continue to be an inspiration not only to your family and friends but to the community at large. You have really captured the spirit of service and we are so thankful you are part of the ServiceSpace family!

  • Anne-Marie Bauer wrote ...

    This is so amazing Nilam Aunty! Thank you for inspiring us with your endless selfless service and generosity! :) Go KK Detroit!! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  • Trishna Shah wrote ...

    Nilam Aunty, what a beautiful unfolding in Detroit! So grateful for all that you do to anchor that community in selfless service and love! The photos are priceless, the spirit is totally conveyed! Wow wow wow, I'm sure this seed you've planted will inspire many more ripples in other parts of the world :)

  • Preeta Bansal wrote ...


  • Bradley Stoll wrote ...

    So beautiful and inspiring to hear this, Nilam Aunty! I may have to make a visit to Detroit just for this๐Ÿ˜

  • Michaele Premet-Rosen wrote ...

    How wonderful!! And such beautiful smiles there :)))

  • Zilong Wang wrote ...

    So many miracles! So much love! Thank you!

  • Nilam Chauhan wrote ...

    We wait with open arms to welcome you to Detroit !!!!
    Thank you all for the support and inspiration !!! Love you my S Sp family :)

  • Renee wrote ...

    Nilam, so beautifully written! The only thing I might add (because you're too modest) is that hosting a Karma Kitchen was a little seed in your mind, a dream in your heart, and the idea grew in your soul and branched out to others because . . . why not? Why not help our gentle dreamer and cook extraordinaire to bring Karma Kitchen to Detroit! No one saw it coming! Thank you for your belief in simply doing good; I'm still smiling two weeks later! Love you, sweet Nilam!

  • Ariel T Nessel wrote ...

    I now have one additional reason to return to my birthplace and visit my family there, joining you for karma kitchens and Awakin circles!