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Pull chain in emergency

There is a letter written in 1900 by one Okhil Chandra Sen that is in the Indian Railways archives today, writes Sunita Aron.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2009 12:44 IST
Sunita Aron

There is a letter written in 1900 by one Okhil Chandra Sen that is in the Indian Railways archives today. It went on to compel the British government to introduce a landmark service in Indian trains. Here’s the full text of the letter, dodgy English and all:

“Dear Sir,

I am arrive by passenger train at Ahmedpore station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance, that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lotah in one hand and dhotie in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shookings to man, female, women on platform. I am get leaved at Ahmedpore station.

This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung, that dam guard no wait 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 faithful servant,

Okhil Chandra Sen”

Yes, the Indian Railways had been running without toilets for about five decades. Sen’s ordeal ultimately led the British India authorities to act fast and install lavatories in trains. So do remember Okhil Chandra Sen every time you pull the chain on a train.