The introduction of toilets in Indian trains is an interesting tale for Indian railway history. The story is so amusing that English Grammar doesn’t matter. Imagine if your “belly is too much swelling”, will you bother about “shockings”. 😀
Indian railway history
Indian railway history is more than 170 years old – the first passenger train in India became operational in 1853. For more than 50 years of operations of the Indian Railways, there were no toilets in trains.
On July 2, 1909, Okhil Chandra Sen, an Indian railway passenger, wrote a letter to Sahibganj Divisional office West Bengal in 1909 requesting to set up toilets in Indian Railways.
Okhil Chandra sen letter to railway authorities was written in anguish, which only Okhil babu could have felt.
Though the letter certainly lacked basic English grammar it became an important document in the history of Indian railways. This letter has been hand-painted and it is currently on display in the Rail Museum in New Delhi.
I am arrive by passenger train at Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance the guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lota (water pot) in one hand and dhoti (clothes) in the next. When I am fall over and expose all my shockings to man and woman on platform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station.
This too much bad, if passengers go to make dung, the damn guard not wait train five minutes for him? I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake otherwise I am making big report to papers.
Yours faithfull servant
Okhil Chandra Sen
After this letter from an aggrieved Okhil Chandra Sen, the railway authorities had no other option but to introduce toilets in all lower-class carriages in trains running more than 50 miles at that time.
Somebody famous has said – Words are not important when you recognize intentions. During the time, India was still under British rule, hence most likely an Englishmen would have read it, and he would have definitely recognized Okhil babu intention.
Next time, if you don’t find a toilet somewhere, you can try this letter. 😀