Excerpt from The Pokhraj

The following excerpt is from The Pokhraj by Irina Gajjar. The Pokhraj, a yellow sapphire, is the key to mystery that envelopes an upbeat Jewish family living in Houston.

The Landau dinner party was turning out to be a success. Natalya had planned the evening weeks ago as a surprise birthday celebration for her husband. Victor relished having guests in his home. He basked in their appreciation of his elegant condominium and its view of the city and he was comfortable and at ease on his turf. Thus, tonight, even though he purported to dislike organized festivities – particularly birthday parties, and most particularly his own – he was pleased. Forgetting that he “hated being happy on command” and that he was categorically opposed to gifts, his spirits were high. The group was small enough for intimacy and his guests were good friends, all fun to be with.

They were at about the same place in life as he and Nat were and they shared common interests. The women, like Nat, were attractive and they sparkled with insightful wit. And his presents were to his liking. Besides a broad band gold ring inset with three little diamonds from Nat, he received a bottle of his favorite champagne, Veuve Cliquot, a copy of the Kama Sutra, a dozen glasses with the insignia of Harvard University – his alma mater – Sauvage cologne and The Warrior Angel trilogy on micro disc.

“I’d drive a hundred miles for this dinner,” Victor said with a warm smile. His remark was worn with repetition, but it was endearing because its sincerity was fresh. Indeed the meal was superb. Natalya was an excellent cook and she had stayed away from the office this Saturday in order to go all out. She served a salmon baked in pastry, a baby lamb roasted with herbs, a vegetable ratatouille, new potatoes, home baked bread and salad. The birthday cake was Victor’s favorite, a babá au rum.


To learn more about The Pkhraj or to purchase the book, visit http://irinaspage.com/literary-fiction/the-pokhraj/

Communicating with Aliens



The number of internet references to U.S. government attempts at communications with aliens is surprising. The other day, I heard a commentary on TV regarding the merits of attempting such communications. There were pros and cons, the major con being fear of invasion.

I think we can never stop hoping and trying to connect with beings who exist in other realms, wherever and whenever they exist as I am convinced they must.

Are you convinced? Just post a yes or no, if you wish to respond to this question. Or tell us more.

Rules about Bragging


Bragging is human but there are rules to be followed if we wish to be elegant about it. I think the biggest rule is never brag about what you do not do. In my view, bragging about not doing things is distasteful and often hypocritical. I have zero tolerance for people who harp on what they don’t eat, drink, do or say especially if the subtext is we should follow their example.

Another bragging rule used in my family is that it is OK to brag about things we are not trained in. In other words, while it’s not OK for a mathematician to show off math skills, she can brag about how well she cooks. I personally have some doubts about that one, though I respect the need to brag about ourselves and especially about our loved ones. In that case I guess the best rule is to be quick with your brag.

How do you feel about bragging?

Modi Hugs Obama



Modi hugging Obama has great and happy import on several levels.


First, it means the two world leaders feel mutual affection based on mutual values.

Second, it represents highly strengthened ties between India and the United States. This matters a great deal to both nations for many reasons.

Third, the fact that Modi received Obama at the airport in person with a hug rather than limiting himself to the gesture known as “Namaste” symbolizes Modi’s readiness to accept freedom in public expression of affection. Showing affection in public has been taboo in India for a long time. Recently protests arose demanding relaxation of rules that could imprison people who kissed on the streets.

Do you remember that not too long ago Modi was unwelcome in the United States and could not obtain an entry visa?


Fiction and Fact


While we often agree that truth is stranger than fiction, I suggest that fiction is often truer than fact.

When we present stories as history or as events, we are constrained by proof and records. However, when we present the same the stories as fiction we are free to delve into motivations, backgrounds, feelings and more.

In writing fiction, we are expansive, honest and more completely truthful. Thus I ask readers not to discount the value of fiction that can state the known and explore the unknown.