Karma Kitchen's Stories Of Raw Generosity
--Nipun Mehta
4 minute read
Dec 14, 2007

Karma Kitchen is about uncommon stories of raw generosity.  And here's a recent favorite: one guest hands a $100 bill to the server and says, "If this is about trust, I trust you to bring me back the right change."  Initially confused, the server decides to step up the trust and brings back $120!   The flabbergasted guest stares at the envelope in stunned silence, glowing in gratitude. :)

Few more stories from the same week, with Sonesh as the Maitre-D:
Two groups of two agreed to share a table; by the end of the meal, strangers had become friends, and the group that finished early secretly paid money for the other group before leaving. Talk about a pay-it-forward double whammy put into practice instantly!  An elderly couple rolled in for their 29th wedding anniversary after hearing about KK from their tenants in the common laundry area! They got tagged like crazy, and we also managed to take their picture and email it to them.  A woman heard a couple playing happy guitar music at a bus-stop, was reminded of her friend's description of KK, and came in for the first time, and said, close to tears, that "This is it", her response to the question of the day: What's the most amazing thing that has happened to you in the last 24 hours?
The week before, a "dream team" served up yet another record night at Karma Kitchen!  Here is Pavi's wonderful recap of the evening:

It's autumn and darkness falls early on the streets. There's a steady rain and somehow something else in the air. At Karma Kitchen it is a night like no other -- one that sees 95 guests in the course of the evening, with no hiccups and plenty of magic... A guest reads out a poem to the entire restaurant, Mary Oliver's 'Logos' about the miracles wrought by love. One volunteer brings a basket brimful of puzzle pieces individually wrapped in brightly colored tissue paper and handed to each of the guests who come that night, charmingly creative reminders of the fact that we are, when all is said and done, pieces of the same puzzle. A birthday table of 10 who came to celebrate signs up en masse to volunteer. A small posse of Be The Cause friends drives up all the way from LA and hands out wristbands printed with a simple message: Thank You. People wait at the door for a table with big smiles and not a trace of impatience. Another birthday party comes in. A candle is stuck in a gourmet volunteer-created-cupcake, lit and brought out as the whole restaurant bursts into song. And at the end of a busy evening it is the journalist who broke the first national story on Karma Kitchen, here for a second round of volunteering, who summarizes it for everyone: "This is a place where people can come and be themselves."
All in a night's work at Karma Kitchen :-)

And while we're at it, a write-up from last week:
As we opened our circle of sharing, sitting in waltz-filled-silence on empty crates, none of us knew everyone and yet all of us felt so connected.  When guests learned that their server was a college professor, they felt the same awe we felt for Margaret; when Sheena was tutoring Beebe on 'tagging' unsuspecting guests with gifts, we knew what this was all about; when Tiffany's friends pulled out a "random act of embarrasment" by serenading her with a wow-what-a-song sung by a random guest on another table, we smiled at the goodness that connect us all; when handsome-boy-Vishnu-ji! was cracking up to the stand-up comedy of dishwashers-of-the-night John and Maher, we knew why he was stuffing everyone with momos all night long; when we noticed that Wynette had a dozen stitches on her face after last night in emergency, we knew what holy-cow!-commitment is all about; when we saw Liz in action, we thought that perhaps she was still dancing to that Waltz music we heard at 4PM;  and when the Japanese reporter left after his 3-hour-dinner (w/interviews), he simply said, "Maybe I can volunteer here next time" and we all knew why we were there.
The stuff that happens in this little joint in downtown Berkeley is quite something.  If you'd like volunteer sometime or want to drop by to have dinner with your friends, you know the address: www.karmakitchen.org

Thank you all for making it happen.

Posted by Nipun Mehta on Dec 14, 2007