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Sting loves kebabs!

February 01, 2005 16:29 IST

There are very few things about Sting that the world does not know.

He will be playing for tsunami relief in Bangalore on February 4, and New Delhi on February 6. He was born Gordon Mathew Sumner. He shares his birthday with Mahatma Gandhi, on October 2. He turned the world's eyes to the fight for preserving dwindling rainforests in Brazil. He sang, Nothing comes from violence, and nothing ever could, hours after the horrific attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.

When he came to India as part of the Human Rights Now concerts in 1988, he said, "I fell in love with India. I fell in love with its contradictions."

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So when he agreed to an e-mail interview with rediff.com, we asked Sting what those contradictions were. "Shiva is both creator and destroyer," was his answer.

The spiritual streak was touched upon by the 54-year-old Englishman quite a few times. Benares, the Ganga and 'the female deity' are what come to his mind first when someone says India.

Was it true he travelled to India incognito and loved all things spicy? "Yes I do visit India," he wrote. "I was in the desert in Jaisalmer last New Year. I celebrated the birthday of my wife Trudie [Styler]. I love kebabs."

What made him decide to revisit India as a musician? "I've always wanted to perform here. DNA Networks' (the organisers of his India concerts] Venkat Vardhan tells me that the audiences in Bangalore, Delhi, and everywhere else in India are fantastic."

Has the perception of India changed with outsourcing? "India will always be different things to different people."

The man who fronted one of the most successful and pioneering rock groups ever, and succeeded in breaking new ground as solo artist crossbreeding Latin, jazz, rock and pop, said he has heard "many" Indian musicians. "Pandit Ravi Shankar is a dear friend."

StingSting's latest album Sacred Love features the sitar maestro's daughter Anoushka Shankar. Was that because he was looking for an Indian sound, or because he wanted her to play in the album? "I was looking for a particular mood, a particular sound for Book of My Life and realised the sitar would make it possible. So I called Anoushka and we recorded in Paris."

The former schoolteacher has played with an eclectic range of musicians -- from Algerian folk music exponent Cheb Mami to jazz saxophone player Branford Marsalis, and drumming gurus Vincent Colaiuta, Omar Hakim and Manu Katche. But when asked who he was most comfortable playing with, he said, "With my present line-up of Dominic Miller (guitar), Jason Rebello (keyboards), Rhani Krija (percussions), Keith Carlock (drums) and Kipper (keyboards and programming)."

With the Police he had Tea in the Sahara, with Branford the Moon over Bourbon Street. After playing for all these years, what turns him on musically? "New sounds. Musical genres from across the globe," he said.

We, at this part of the globe, say, Bring on the night!

Photograph: Getty Images

Sumit Bhattacharya