Monday, October 4, 2010

Karma Kitchen, Washington DC

I've been in Washington DC for a few days and am enjoying the chance to jump on the Metro and go out and explore the city. Yesterday my wife and I took the opportunity to visit a very different kind of restaurant called Karma Kitchen. "Karma" is an Indian concept, of cause and effect, and which stresses the importance of good deeds. Good deeds, good karma, bad deeds, well, you figured it out.

I first heard about Karma kitchen on the radio one morning while driving to work in Honolulu. I was intrigued by their unique story and made a mental note of it, wondering if someday I could visit. Well, today was the day! Karma Kitchen is only located in two places; Washingtion DC, and Berkeley, CA, so there are only a few places like it. Karma Kitchen is a restaurant built upon the principle of generosity. Let me tell you what I mean. Imagine going to eat at a place where someone has already paid for your meal, and where you determine how much you're going to pay. And imagine a place where almost everyone (except the cook) is a volunteer, giving back and trying to "pay forward". Sounds strange yet this is precisely what makes Karma Kitchen such a unique experience. 

Shortly after arriving, we were given a window seat with wonderful views. By then the restaurant, located near the Dupont Circle Metro, was already filling up with people of all ages, but mostly younger college students. And you know how smart college kids are-they always end up where there is good, cheap food. Our waitress arrived and told us the "story" of Karma Kitchen, how generosity was the theme of the day, and that someone else had already paid for your meal. I asked her why she was volunteering and she replied that her roommate brought her one day, and even since she "was hooked". She also added that she enjoyed being in the position to give back. You know, I hear exactly the same comments from those who volunteer to serve food to the homeless at St. Aidan's in Honolulu. People have told me they find serving others to be a transforming experience.

We then went onto enjoy different kinds of fruit juices, Indian vegetarian foods, and some wonderful nan bread and sauces. There were also fascinating quotes at each table. Ours was from Mother Teresa which stated  "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes can be endless".

Food for thought, and pretty cool!

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