Posts Tagged With: volunteer in india

Atithi Devo Bhava: A mantra I saw in practice at Seva Cafe

I first wrote this volunteering experience for Volunteer Weekly. But then I had to share it here as well! 🙂

This post combines three of my favorite tasks – cooking, volunteering and writing!

seva cafe logo, living is giving, volunteering at seva cafe, Ahmedabad,Last week I went to Ahmedabad to volunteer in Seva Café. I was introduced to Seva Café almost a year ago during a training in my previous organisation. Since then I have wanted to come back here. Even though Ahmedabad is just a couple of hours away, it still took me almost a year to return.

It is difficult to explain Seva Café – it’s an experiment in ‘Peer to Peer Generosity’ run by volunteers (and a small staff) from diverse backgrounds. At Seva Café, volunteers offer meals to strangers just like they would to guests at home. At the end of your meal your bill reads 0.0. The café runs on gift economy.

Even though I love cooking, I have never cooked for more than 15 people at a go. I wanted to see how it is in big kitchen and so I decided to volunteer for both food preparation and later in waiting, serving and cleaning dishes. It was an amazing experience! I realized the cooks in restaurants must have solid arm muscles because even mixing such quantities and holding such big pans (with food) was a task :D!

volunteering at seva cafe, ahmedabad, seva cafe, india, karma kitchen

The day began with me making tea for everybody. Then Raghu bhai and Raju bhai decided on the menu for the day and we all got busy. Since I was a novice I was mainly peeling and chopping and passing things. Then Bhaskar bhai decided to teach me fried rice and red sauce for pasta. I was all excited! Yeah! I get to cook! 🙂

What followed is something I will always remember.

As soon as a picked up the pan; Bhaskar bhai asked me to look up and read:

“अतिथि देवो भव” [meaning ‘The Guest is God’].

I said okay and I said it loud “अतिथि देवो भव”. He then said – don’t just say it; believe it. Believe it from your heart that the stranger you are cooking for today, is your guest; is like God. Cook like you would cook for God. Leave all the negative emotions that you may have aside; if you had a fight with someone earlier in the day and you are angry; throw that anger out. There is no place for it in this kitchen. Cook with a happy heart; cook with love and its only then that your food will be delicious. He said – there is no technique in cooking a great meal; the only essential ingredient is love. If while cooking you are thinking about any fight you had then those negative emotions are bound to travel to your food also.

The thought was so simple, yet so profound. It’s the reason why no restaurant can match mother’s food. Mom’s make food with love which a restaurant chef rarely remembers to add!

Categories: development, Travel, Volunteer | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Butterflies in my stomach…

Yesterday I felt almost like a fresh graduate out of college, who has her first day at work the next day. Preparing what to wear, what to take.. I was both excited and anxious. New sector, new people, new roles and responsibilities. Getting back to work after 3 years wasn’t easy..The only thought I had the whole day yesterday was  “How would tomorrow be”.. But just thinking couldn’t do much anyway.. so I slept saying “I shall cross the bridge when it comes”..

 

Come today morning, I was up at 5:30 am! (I had to leave home at 9!). tried sleeping again.. no use. So kept on tossing and turning till 7 when I finally woke up, did some general time pass on net, got ready and left at 9.

 

In the office, the scenario mirrored “throw the baby in the pool and she will learn to swim”. After a brief orientation about the organisation and the centre.. I was left on my own, as everyone was busy preparing for a big event the next week. However 15 minutes into my ‘free time’ I saw my name on a board against events plan and activity leader for child welfare and elderly welfare during the weeklong event with the plan due COB today. And so the work began and the butterflies stopped fluttering around.. 🙂

 

Welcome Ashima Goyal Siraj, Regional Manager – West, iVolunteer, India

 

Categories: around us, work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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