The best of Lounge in 2015

Explore the most interesting, in-depth, and original writing and reporting of the year

Here are some of our most beloved stories of the year. They cover a wide and astonishing range of subjects, from six-year-old beauty queens, to life on the LoC for India’s Special Forces. There are intrepid journeys—on a ship to stop whale-hunting in Antarctica, or down the wild Atlantic coast. There are all the delicious meals we’ve had this year, and the result of our impassioned quarrels on what should make it to a list of the best dishes in India. There are interviews with some of the biggest names in art, cinema, and culture; a deep dive into fashion and its social repercussions; sharp-edged explorations of urban life and what the future holds for our cities; and meticulous reconstructions of fascinating historical events.

Sit back, and enjoy.

Journey to the last ocean

An expedition to save migratory whales from industrial whaling fleets takes a marine conservationist to the continent of ice

Manoj Bajpayee: The original indie star

As Bheeku Mhatre in ‘Satya’, he lit a fire in Hindi cinema. When he catches attention, he grabs it hard, as he has done again with the most nuanced role of his career in ‘Aligarh’

Salman Rushdie: ‘I have no further interest in non-fiction’

The author on why his new novel is meant to be funny, his growing disinterest in news, and weaving idea, character and plot together

Dream run

Most champion athletes have had hard, agrarian lives. Can India’s new crop of middle-distance runners, mostly from tribal areas, bring Olympic glory?

Living and dying in Dover Lane

Author Amit Chaudhuri’s campaign to save Kolkata’s eccentric architecture hits home

Whose Bandra is it?

The story of Mumbai’s most happening suburb is far more complex than just new vs old, or hipsters vs an ageing generation

The first Indians on Everest

On the 50th anniversary of India’s first successful expedition to the world’s highest mountain, the last living members recount the historic climb in detail

The Nanda Devi mystery

Fifty years after deadly plutonium was lost on India’s second highest mountain, the enigma continues

The modern revivalists

Rohan Murty and Sheldon Pollock, the duo behind the Murty Classical Library of India, on the difficulties of translation, finding regional literary gems, and the politicization of Sanskrit

Twitter’s unknown celebrities

India is obsessed with Bollywood, politics and cricket on twitter—that’s old news. But there’s a growing tribe of everyday people who are becoming the opinion-maker of our times on social media

Around India in 80 dishes

Let’s go where chorizo meets chocolate, ‘bhapa doi’ is a cheesecake and ripe mango is core to a curry.

I am 6, and I am a beauty queen

In Chandigarh and Ambala, children’s beauty contests are a rage. We meet boys and girls, and entire families, absorbed in this race

The school on the hill

Jayashree and Amit support alternative schooling and tribal rights

Why F.N. Souza matters

The modernist painter who broke all conventions is making news—and there’s no better time to celebrate him than now

The Bombay of a film writer

Varun Grover on the best storyteller at ‘quarter-bars’, being a perpetual outsider, and why the Maximum City has run out of stories

Gazing at a dying god

In the run-up to Rath Yatra, a magical night spent inside the jagannath temple

Mad about the sari

It is in publicized pacts, festivals and offices. Why has India’s oldest drape suddenly become an urban fetish?

Looms of the valley

Kashmir’s weaving industry and its current challenges through the life and times of the kani shawl

Living and dying in the Special Forces

Inside the world of the secretive 9 Para SF, involved in ceaseless battle in the rugged, forested mountains along the LoC

Stray cat blues

We didn’t choose the cats; they came to us, one by one, drawn by some mysterious thread.

Tsukiji, Tokyo: Among the believers

In the world’s largest fish market, witnessing the grand ceremony of an epic tuna auction

Open for business

The Bookshop in Delhi’s Jor Bagh, a window to the pre-Kindle world, makes a compelling case for book stores

Ismat Chughtai’s fearless pen

She spoke truth to power. No one like her exists today

His feminist theory of sex

On Mahinder Watsa, the prolific sexuality counsellor and columnist, and why his new book should be every Indian’s go-to sex and relationship manual

U-boat to Singapore

Subhas Chandra Bose’s extraordinary voyage in a German submarine during WWII

The wild Atlantic

Driving down the Irish coast along the Atlantic, clichés give way to a country ready to be smelt, touched and felt

The lonely sport

Tennis players often pull out crumpled notes. Rohit Brijnath dissects the extreme loneliness of tennis players

The tough girls of turf

A small school in a small town has made all the difference to the Indian women’s hockey team and its successful campaign to qualify for the Rio Olympics

Why India needs more bad girls

A small band of funny, foul-mouthed female stand-up comics are our modern gender gurus

Angry captive goddesses

Jai Arjun Singh on some barely talked about angry Indian goddesses in Indian cinema

Myth and the making of Star Wars

Like everything else, the West ‘stole’ from our myths to make a blockbuster. But wait, what about Gilgamesh?