Tag Archives: Red Dragon Cafe

April 6, 2015

I gave away some more children’s books today and to a previous recipient in this project, so in itself today’s Giveaway wasn’t that original or exciting. However, the circumstances around the Giveaway made it feel part of a larger moment of kindness and generosity that confirmed my fundamental belief in the goodness of people.

Theo and I met up with my sister, Roshan and her daughter Kaia at our friend Krista’s Red Dragon Café. I wrote about Krista on February 15, when I gave her a chair for the café. Today, I selected some illustrated kids’ books from the pile I’d purged from Theo’s bookshelves to take to the café and leave in the kids’ cave-like area that Krista has created behind one of the couches. She seemed delighted to get more books, though it became clear as all of our children settled in to their spots in the café that they may not notice the books if there are small, shiny screens anywhere close by.

In her typically generous manner, Krista brought out a pot of tea for us and all sorts of scrumptious cakes and cookies, which I gobbled down shamelessly in the hope of putting back some of the weight that I’ve lost recently. Sipping on tea, we caught up with Krista and her husband Nick on all our various illnesses and family news as the kids settled in their various nooks with their gadgets. Suddenly I heard someone shouting out, “If anyone has a red car out front, they’re about to get towed!” I jumped up and starting pushing my way to the front of the café, just in time to see a parking enforcement agent wielding his gadget in the direction of my red car. I ran up to him and asked what I’d done wrong and he pointed to the red, anti-gridlock “no parking after 4pm sign” above the green “2-hour parking” sign that I’d actually paid attention to. It was 4:12pm. I explained that I was sorry I’d missed the sign and asked him if he’d already started writing my ticket, fully expecting him to say “yes” and hand me one of those depressing red and white envelopes. But, instead he said, “That’s ok. Go on. Move your car, quick.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Before he could change his mind, I blurted out a hasty “thank you,” jumped in my car and moved it to a parking meter around the corner, my mouth hanging open in shock all the way.

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When I got back to the café, the man from the shop two doors down who had come into the Red Dragon to warn me about my car explained that the parking officer had done that for other customers too. Another man, dressed in a bright turquoise Statue of Liberty costume and waving a foam “Help with Your Taxes” sign for the Tax Office next door, ran up to me grinning and said, “I’m so glad you didn’t get a ticket.” I returned to our table in the café feeling stunned at the support and kindness I’d just received from total strangers. I announced my good fortune to everyone and we all marveled at the rare generosity of the parking officer. Then, as we got ready to pay for our feast and leave, Krista refused to accept our money, leaving Roshan and me feeling overwhelmed by their generosity now. I know that I’ll go back to the Red Dragon Café again, no doubt armed with something else to give its wonderful, huge-hearted owners, and probably something special for a very compassionate man in a tan colored uniform.

February 15, 2015

To a Brit, there is very little that can lift the spirits like a good cup of tea. Whether it’s drunk at 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock, made with tea bags or loose tea, prepared with the tea or milk poured first, a nice cuppa can warm your body and soul, boost your energy level and make you feel loved and comforted in a way that coffee just cannot. A couple of years ago our friend Krista decided to open up a café that specializes in excellent teas of all kinds, scones and other treats, as well as the usual coffee drinks found in an LA café. Despite all the permit nightmares, she and her husband Nick endeavored to realize her vision of a cozy neighborhood café in a neighborhood of Los Angeles that is lacking in such laptop- and family-friendly spaces. On Vermont Avenue, just across from LA City College, the Red Dragon Cafe (http://www.thereddragoncafe.com) is refreshingly not Starbucks, nor is it a traditional British caff. The walls were painted by local graffiti artists, very few of the chairs match and there’s a little “kid cave” space behind the couch where youngsters can play or read while their parents sip tea. Some evenings there’s live music, even open-mike events. Because it’s not in our neighborhood, we don’t manage to get there often, but today, we drove over there to give Krista a chair we no longer needed for our son Theo’s room. Because it looks nothing like the other chairs there, it fit right in.

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It’s always heart-warming to talk to Nick and Krista. They are some of the most generous, kind-hearted people we know. They have a darling son a little younger than Theo, and an adorable daughter they adopted, and recently they have welcomed into their family a delightful teenage girl who needed a safer home than the one she was born into. And the café is more than just a business; it’s also a way of training and providing jobs for capable local young people. Although Nick has a hectic work schedule and Krista battles with an auto-immune condition, they are constantly giving to others. Whenever I spend time with them, I leave with lifted spirits, and I know it’s not just the tea. It’s because their efforts give me hope and faith in humanity and motivate me to push myself to a higher level as a person.