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Stories told and untold: a note from the editor

Revisiting of life stories—of people, institutions and objects—is the thread that runs loosely through this week’s issue of Lounge

Weaver Indra Kumari works on recycling fabric in Delhi.

Detail makes a story come alive, and there’s always a debate about how best to do this. Are powerful stories a result of the writer stepping back, out of the way, or of immersing themselves fully and becoming a witness as much as an observer? Whichever version you choose, life stories is the thread that runs loosely through this week’s issue of Lounge. Cipla’s Y.K. Hamied reflects on the 85-year-old pharmaceutical giant he built from a small company to a global brand, one that has changed the way the entire industry works by introducing affordable lifesaving generic drugs. Elsewhere in the issue, Sonia Faleiro talks about her book on the Budaun rape, and of spending years going into the grim secrets of other lives.

Our cover story this week is about extending the life cycle of clothes, based on the way people’s choices have shifted during the pandemic. People want to be seen as more responsible—for themselves, for their families, for Earth. This shift has given the fashion industry pause too, and it has realised that customers see fast fashion as deeply unfashionable now. Luxury labels such as Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton, lifestyle brands such as Adidas, and indie designers are upcycling. As they turn what would have reached a landfill into an object of desire, they are giving new life to the discarded.

Our report on comedians from the Indian Muslim community is also, in a way, about telling life stories. At a time when Munawar Faruqui has spent a month in prison for a joke he did not make, these men and women talk about what it means to be young, funny and Muslim in India. They draw on material from their own lives to show they can’t be cast into the stereotypes popular culture has created for them, look at their own community’s flaws, and respond to the Islamophobia they face. It also highlights the increasing intolerance of satire in India, a topic Lounge has addressed before. If we can’t find humour in the curiosities, quirks and even the awfulness around us, what life stories are we going to have that are worth telling?

Write to the Lounge editor @shalinimb

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