Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Traveller's travails

A visit to the Railway Museum revealed some gems of information, the best of course was that the trains in India in the early 1900's did not have ensuite toilets in the carriages, and one would have to wait for the next station to use the facilities. God help you if it were an emergency. And that brings me to the post for today...the result of one such emergency!

Following is an actual complaint made by Okhil Chandra Sen, in shall we say 'Hinglish.' It is hilarious in expression and language employed, but that was no impediment to the consequent, productive result.

Okhil Babu’s letter to the Railway Department (early 1900’s )

I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur 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 ‘dhoti’ in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam 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.”

Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj Divisional Railway Office in 1909. It is on display at the Railway Museum in New Delhi. It was also reproduced under the caption “Travellers’ Tales” in the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Any guesses why this letter is of historic value?

It led to the introduction of TOILETS in Indian trains!!!!!!!!!

Three cheers for Okhil Babu......Hip..hip...hurray!


Lotah............a globular water container used in India, Myanmar etc. is a traditional garment worn by men in India and many other countries in the Asian sub-continent. It'sa rectanglar piece of unstitched cloth, wrapped around the waist and knotted. It covers the lower part of the body including the legs.



  1. I'm assuming that Okhil is male as he makes reference to a 'Dhoti' .

  2. Ken
    You are right, Okhil is a male. I'm glad I made you laugh :)

  3. I just love reading your posts because I learn so much but also because they are so vivid and lively!

  4. Indeed very hilarious.. I can see what he exposed.. so much private to him was on pubic display.. hahaha


  5. Thanks Naqvee for visiting my blog. Just a there an 'l' missing in "pubic" or was that fits in either way !!