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2016: The best of Lounge

The 30 most fascinating stories we did this year

We speak to Ian Mckellen and Gulzar, Martin Amis and Krishna Sobti. We travel down violence-torn Myanmar, and green Sikkim as it turns 100% organic. We play with the free beagles of Bengaluru and the skateboarders in a village at the edge of a forest. We go inside the struggling world of Indian gymnastics and wonder at Dipa Karmakar’s miracle. We meet Kargil’s children. Soumitra Chatterjee talks about his life’s work. We go behind the scenes at our favourite restaurants. And much more.

Kargil’s children

Accounts of the loss and fortitude of a handful of youngsters, children of fallen soldiers, who visited the war zone for the first time last month to commemorate the 26 July victory

Portrait of an Indian Soldier

A tribute to Hangpan Dada, killed in an encounter near the LOC on 26 May

Highway for tigers

How a team of conservationists made Karnataka’s forests a freely navigable haven for tigers, elephants and leopards

Kayin State, Myanmar: The state of peace

In Myanmar’s Kayin State, tourists walk on a fragile peace process

A conversation with Martin Amis

The writer on people losing their grip on reality and voting Donald Trump, the shrinking space for literary culture, and why he does not read anyone younger than him

If I stop acting, I won’t exist: Soumitra Chatterjee

The octogenarian actor on being Satyajit Ray’s alter ego, shunning Bollywood, Bengal’s kitchen politics, and working non-stop at the age of 81

Ian McKellen on Shakespeare and sexuality

On the bard’s longevity, playing Prospero in an app, coming out on radio, and staying private

Gulzar is always looking for the right ‘lafz’

The poet-lyricist on Tagore, writing for children, the script he has just finished writing and throwing away ‘obnoxious clichés’

Hindi is an epic language: Krishna Sobti

The novelist on what it means to be a citizen, her court battle with Amrita Pritam, and writers and their drink of choice

Freeing the beagles of Bengaluru

The story behind the largest release of lab beagles in the world in Bengaluru—and the people who made it possible

Urban animal warriors

The heroes who foster injured bats, save turtles from slaughter and rehab snakes in their bathrooms

Urban India’s most rabid dogfight

How India’s cities are warring with the dogs that inhabit them, both strays and pets

The martyr who cleans your drains

Thousands of sanitation workers die every year in India while cleaning sewers. Are their deaths any less than the sacrifices of our armed forces?

Why Kanhaiya Kumar is dangerous for Narendra Modi

The three best speakers of our time are Bal Thackeray, Lalu Prasad and Narendra Modi, but Kanhaiya, rustic in delivery, intellectual and highly aware, trumps them all

A highway of death

Travelling down NH24 in Uttar Pradesh, one of the deadliest roads in India

Sikkim against the machine

How the state pushed out agrochemical products and became the first all-organic Indian state

Dipa Karmakar: The daredevil

From fashioning a springboard from shock absorbers to becoming one of the world’s top gymnasts

Inside the murky world of Indian gymnastics

Dipa Karmakar’s stellar show at the Olympics owed nothing to the sport’s governing body, which has done everything in its power to nip any development in the bud

What I think of when I think about running

Rohit Brijnath’s love/hate relationship with long (ish) runs

Four ways in which girls are changing sports in India

Like Sakshi Malik and P.V. Sindhu, who’ve brought home the medals, there’s no stopping girls who want to play. Four stories from around the country on how sport is empowering girls and breaking barriers

The long road to the Olympics

India’s first focused, long-term sporting project is looking to develop a bunch of young athletes into world-class runners over a 5- to 10-year period

The skateboarders of Janwar

Thanks to a German activist and author, skateboarding is slowly changing the children in this Madhya Pradesh village divided by caste. Can it also change social codes?

When you can’t say @#%*

How the first year of a tough censor regime under Pahlaj Nihalani is pushing film writers to change their language and thought

Manu Chandra: raising the bar

How the chef-restaurateur broke the rules, set the standards, and made fine-dining fun

Behind the kitchen door

We all love eating out. But what’s it like to be cooking in a restaurant? We go behind the scenes, minute by minute, plate by plate

Why are there few cold foods in Indian cuisine?

Why does a hot country like India have few cold foods? The answers lie in indigenous ingredients and inherited wisdom

Lahore: In search of 150, Anarkali

Following a map of pre-Partition memories, shedding tears in a lost home in Pakistan and bringing back a piece of it to India

End of the muse

Mehr Jessia for Rohit Khosla, Malaika Arora for Wendell Rodricks—mass fashion, Instagram and celebrity overkill have made the fashion muse a thing of the past

The Bullet bug is spreading far and wide

The story of Royal Enfield, and how it went from being an iconic symbol of adventure and individuality (and a bike that broke down often) to India’s fastest-growing motorcycle brand

Milind Soman: Always the boyfriend

Former supermodel-turned-film producer and ace runner Milind Soman on why he doesn’t make a great husband, and romance and sex at 50

The party must go on

Gay nightlife thrives in India’s metros despite widespread prejudice against the community

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