My Camera & My Chai – rated PG!


I realise that the author I am talking about in this post may not be wholly familiar to Americans. However, to those of English or Commonwealth descent, PG Wodehouse is a completely familiar writer.

Many of us grew up on the magic of PG Wodehouse, and there are groups on Facebook that fiercely defend their favourite PG Wodehouse character.

This book, ‘What Ho’, is a collection of his writings across the various characters he created. Prolific man, he was. It seems he wrote about 90 books in his lifetime, and these are books meant to be read.

As Stephen Fry, in his introduction to the book says, the achievement of PG Wodehouse lies in his mastery of “Plot, Character and Language, and the greatest of these, by far, is Language”.

This is so very true. You can attempt to copy PG, but you will fall short. Once ensared by his magic, you never escape.

His mastery of language, like that of many masters, has few peers.

It is indeed masterly, and when I look at what has happened to modern language and communication, it can almost make you weep.

When I write ‘Mary Jane’, it is almost always with fountain pen. Then comes the second draft on the computer.

In the days of my youth, I used to write long letters by hand, as did many of us. Then came e-mail.

We would still start an email with a ‘Dear Rajiv, please do move your arse…’. Now it they start, ‘Rajiv, move your arse….’. Long on the imperative, and short on humour and camaraderie.

E-Mails too, are vanishing, as are greeting cards.

Greeting cards, with wet tongues pasting stamps, went the way of E-Cards. These are now going the way of Mass Greetings forwarded on WhatsApp to many, many WhatsApp groups.

Emoticons replace Emotions, and expressive language has given way to cartoon characters.


In PG Wodehouse’s world, there is time for leisure. There is time for fun, for scrumpets and tea, for strolls under the moonlit night, and nights of revelry at The Drones.

There is time for a merry turn of phrase, and the luxury of sitting down to a good lunch.

We have many means of communication these days, but not the time to sit and talk. The number of words in the dictionary has increased, but our vocabulary has shrunk.

Yet, at times, there is the time to sit in the balcony – and not in the traffic – and escape into the magical world of a great, great writer.


  1. Most American’s who have attended school are aware of P.G. Wodehouse, one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th century. He made his home in America from time to time. Thank you for this most interesting article on such a fabulous talent and remarkable man.

  2. Interesting post, Rajiv, thanks… Talking about “pen” writing nowadays, I take part each year in an international postcard swap, called Liberate Your Art. This has been amazing and has opened doors to new friendship. Am also a member of a “Hygge” (how to live a serene life inspired by Danish way of life) group where we have just installed a pen-pal exchange, just as the good old times of our youth… I might be a bit out-subject from Mr. Wodehouse, but as humour is his characteristic, he would forgive me 🙂

  3. Sad to say, they aren’t teaching children how to write in school. It’s called cursive now and they probably won’t even be able to sign their name in writing. There’s nothing like a beautifully turned phase and it is a real delight to read it.
    As long as we have real books in hand they can’t take it away. Our culture is becoming fouled by technology.

      1. Well they aren’t teaching them here. If anything happens to this technology our youth will be unable to write about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.