Karma Kitchen Doo-bai :)
Posted by Neha Phukan on Feb 6, 2016
But the ripples for a second Karma Kitchen to happen had begun long before the day itself. From Natasha’s ongoing, deep conversations with the restaurant, to the collective intentioning, to all of the love we carried back from our India trip all the way to a by-the-chance email sent to Meghna, requesting if we could have Wisdom Craft heart pins for guests and their arriving just in time – all the way through, it felt like flow, not work. :)
For our volunteer briefing session, due to a roadblock for a marathon we had to switch venues last minute. Chandni and me were anxious that it would cause the volunteers so much inconvenience and they might be upset; but we were in for a surprise. Each one turned up with a smile, hugs and there was a spirit of, “lets get this started” right off the bat!
Megha had been caught in the roadblock as she got our message of the venue change a bit late and the initial frustration gave way to a reminder to herself that she was coming to share love, and she decided to enjoy the journey rather than worry about the destination. She listened to music, chatted with the driver and arrived full of smiles. Francois offered to buy everyone drinks at the briefing, and later MJ and him contributed more than the required amount for the t-shirts – just because they were moved by love.
The morning of Karma Kitchen, we began with a few moments of silence while holding hands in a circle, and Natasha sharing intentions for the day, inviting us all to be in joy and really grounding all of us in the KK spirit.
Chandni and me were awed by how flexible every volunteer was and most didn’t wish to leave even after their shift was well over - serving, getting done whatever needed to be done. Sandhya and Nadeem did an amazing job keeping the cash counter flowing smoothly (we were moved to tears when Nadeem later shared upon probing that he had traveled two hours to get here – such sincerity!)
For the volunteer nametags, we fell short of safety pins and Chandni made quick calls to a volunteer who was on her way. Neelambhari had her own kindness story unfolding in the taxi, where the driver made a last minute detour without any complaints just so she could buy those safety pins and they shared a moment of connection which ended with Neel giving him a chocolate.
Here is Varunya’s beautiful share in her own words - “I was walking to the door of Frioul to begin my shift as the greeter at around 10 AM. I was asked to introduce the concept of Karma Kitchen to two women who were just getting seated at a table outdoors. I went up taking the menu card, and the smile that just wouldn’t fade away, and explained the whole concept to them. After hearing me out, the ladies expressed that they were really craving French toast, which wasn’t on our menu. However, they still wanted to contribute. So, they gave me AED 300 despite not having anything! I had just entered, and the positive vibes were already creating such incredible magic! I just couldn’t believe what was happening, and I don’t think I can quite put that overwhelming infinite happiness that I felt in words! “
Manish called out my name and said there’s a gentleman who was interested to understand more about the concept – so I went out and seated there was a tough looking businessman. We shared a brief conversation and he offered to support us in finding other restaurants to run KK. I asked him, “What inspires you to wish to support this initiative?” And he replied, “I don’t quite know, but there’s something here in the smiles, the way the volunteers are speaking to me which is humbling.” We ended with a hug :)
Adhar later shared that a volunteer and him were talking and this volunteer expressed how it wasn’t easy for him to be happy, grateful and smiling, but something about the space at Karma Kitchen was making it flow out of him very naturally – much to his own surprise!
Robin, an in-charge of another restaurant shared how she had a deeper respect and appreciation for her staff after observing the volunteers serving and taking orders – and she also offered their space for a future KK. Vijaya aunty in a similar vein shared how she’s going to give a big hug to a server next time because she felt so much respect for everything they do!
The ripples of love continued right to end when, as we were all holding hands for the closing circle, two gentlemen passing by, who were visiting Dubai from Saudi Arabia, came up to ask what we were doing. They only spoke Arabic and Maryam explained that we were sharing gratitude, and they just flowed in and we all held hands, and they expressed how grateful they were for this circle, for the love, for the country – all very much in the spirit of the circle!
Melany had brought a coffee maker for the kindness table. It lay in a corner and as we were clearing up, right at the end, Pia, the restaurant owner’s wife happened to see it and turns out, she’d been looking for one for months! So we decided to gift it to her then and there with a letter and she was just beaming with joy. When I later shared the story with Melany via email, SHE was so happy – and we were so happy to just be part of all the magic.
Our lesson for the day – whether it’s Berkeley, Ahmadabad, Pune or Dubai, every heart responds to love. May we continue to deepen in that lesson so that we can keep giving love, every moment, in the most open-hearted ways.
And yes, in true KK spirit, there was a surplus. :)