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Not always singing with their supper...



FINDING AN ANCHOR: Indian Ocean guys enjoy themselves at Connaught Place's Café California restaurant in New Delhi. Photo: Anu Pushkarna.

IN AN age when singers are seen sputtering up from all corners like pop corn, hijacking slots on small screens, music shops, car stereos and all places possible, is not the only article that one finds missing now is the heart of music, that quintessential part which till some time ago, used to make genuine melody? One does not know whom to blame but the canning of songs with the aid of numerous electric instruments and featuring a "story line" in a music video with almost similar jives of aerobic dancers has, in a way, made singing look so cool and easy that it gives an impression as if it can be everybody's business. But you thank goodness when amidst the swarm of know-all music bands floating around, a few surface with real musicality.

As you start naming names for this category, the Delhi-based four-men group - Indian Ocean - can definitely not be failed to spot. Concocting basic Indian rhythms and classical folk structures with jazz, reggae, rock and at times, employing vocals as another instrument besides guitar, dholak, taranga, tabla and drums, the band has been gradually gaining listeners' appeal with over a hundred packed live performances both across the country and the globe to their credit. Thank God, they do not have a music video yet!

So, when the day came to dine out with them, one wondered whether knowing music could be equalled with knowing one's food too. Arriving first at the newly-opened multi-cuisine restaurant Café California in New Delhi's upmarket Connaught Place Outer Circle, group drummer Amit Kilam and bass guitarist-vocalist Rahul Ram scanned through the menu card to guess as to what fellow guitarist Sushmit Sen would ask for.

"Golden Fried Prawns definitely, what do you say?" said Amit, rolling his big, bright eyes as Rahul chuckled, combing his fingers through the Santa Claus beard of his. As the restaurant CEO Virat Verma requests for their preferences, Amit ticks off the Chinese Combo and Rahul, Grilled Pork Chops.

Enters vocalist Asheem Chakrabarty and in no time follows Rahul's choice. The last to arrive is Sushmit but, true to Amit's guess, he settles for a serving of Golden Fried Prawns! What fellow vibrations!

Noticing an array of salads in the menu, they ask for tasting Caesar's Salad, both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian avatars.

Interrupts Virat again: `Some soup please"? "Okay" screams the chorus. Unlike other eating joints, the restaurant has a soup of the day and the turn is for the Broccoli, Mushroom Soup. Paired with Hot Spinach and Cheese Dip and tortilla chips, it ttakes to the singers' palette as naturally as the band's scores take it to the listeners' ears.

Soon land up the salads. Appealingly dished out with lettuce garnished with garlic croutons, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing served with hot garlic bread and one with chicken dices, they make an edible sight.

"Tastes good too", says Asheem, munching away a mouthful.

The main dishes are placed in front of all according to preferences. Amit likes the taste and quantity of his Chinese Combo but both Asheem and Rahul suggest the Chef to make the mustard and honey sauce served with their pork chops a little less grainy. "Something like the Bengali Kasundi," says Rahul, a half-Bengali who never lived in Bengal. "The prawns are nicely camouflaged and interestingly cocooned within the crispy batter," adds Sushmit with a gentle smile.

The Chef rolls in desserts in the form of apple pie, Lemon Cheese cake and Noora's Favourite Sundae, an innovation with assorted ice creams, jellybeans and gems laced with chocolate sauce.

All are well appreciated, the Chef's generous gesture and the yummy taste. A request for some crooning is made but quick exchange of smile and apologies come for deciding against it.

"We have to rush... leaving for Mumbai tomorrow for a show besides the preparations for our next album is on in full swing," informs Rahul. After their debut album, "Indian Ocean", then "Desert Rain" and "Kandisa", they are planning their next release in March this year.

"We have tentatively named it "Bhor", adds Rahul. Well, this piece of information is strictly for the lovers of Indian Ocean.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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