At the beginning of the 20th century, nice Indian girls did not sing in public. Female musical performances were restricted to tawaifs, of a slightly sulfurous reputation, during soirées frequented by cultivated male patrons. If the tawaif wound up getting married, the husband almost invariably required his bride to abandon her art. Men, on the other hand, had for centuries been honored as musicians, patronized by padishahs and maharajas. Their craft was handed down from father to son, and still is today.

Food journalist Angela Hui grew up in rural Wales, as daughter to the owners of the Lucky Star Chinese takeaway. Angela grew up behind the counter, helping take orders and serve customers, while also trying to find her place in this small Welsh town. In her new memoir, Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood behind the Counter, she writes about the surprisingly central role the takeaway plays in rural Britain.

When Hazel Selzer Kahan’s parents left their homes in Germany and Poland in the early 1930s to study medicine in Rome, they envisioned spending the rest of their lives helping patients in Europe. But as Fascist governments deepened their hold in both Germany and Italy during their medical studies, Hermann and Kate Selzer did not see a future as Jewish doctors in Europe, at least for the time being. Hermann sailed to India, thinking it would be safe to live under the British. In 1937, he traveled from city to city in India, looking for a hospital that would take in a couple of Jewish doctors. When he finally reached Lahore, he found acceptance. Kate joined him six months later and a couple years after that Selzer Kahan would be born, followed by her brother Michael two years later.

Ashoka the Great (3rd century BCE) of the ancient Indian Mauryan dynasty (4th to 2nd century BCE) remains something of a mystery. He was emperor of one of the largest and richest kingdoms of the ancient times that covered Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern parts of India. However, he was forgotten in India (while continuing to be revered in China and Southeast Asia, thanks to his appearance in Buddhist narratives) until the 19th century British scholars researching Indian antiquity discovered him as texts and inscriptions in the previously unreadable Brahmi script came to be newly deciphered.

The Second Karmapa Karma Pakshi: Tibetan Mahasiddha, by Charles Manson (Shambhala Publications, November 2022(
The Second Karmapa Karma Pakshi: Tibetan Mahasiddha, by Charles Manson (Shambhala Publications, November 2022)

Karma Pakshi is considered influential in the development of the reincarnate lama tradition, a system that led to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. Born in East Tibet in the 13th century, Karma Pakshi himself was the first master to be named Karmapa, a lineage that continues to modern times and has millions of admirers worldwide. During his lifetime, Karma Pakshi was widely acknowledged as a mahāsiddha—a great spiritual adept—and was therefore invited to the Mongol court at the apogee of its influence in Asia.

Sorayya Khan has published a number of novels that touch upon her family background—as the daughter of a Pakistani father and a Dutch mother—and the 1970s Pakistan of her youth. In her latest book, however, she turns to non-fiction and writes a family memoir, the content of which has informed her previous works of fiction. We Take Our Cities With Us is a heartfelt love story not just of her parents, but also of the places where Khan and her family have lived.