ndsharma's blog

When the trains were without toilets

Posted on: December 28, 2014

Now we take toilets in trains for granted. It was not always so. In the beginning of the last century, there were no toilets in the trains. When the train stopped at a station, the passengers would use the nearby fields to defecate. A Bengali gentleman, it seems, once got into panic when he heard the guard’s whistle and had to rush without completing his business. He later poured out his agony in a letter to the authorities concerned. The letter is contained in Binoo K John’s excellent book titled ‘Entry From Backside Only: Hazaar Fundas Of Indian-English’ which traces the evolution of Indian-English. Okhil Chandra Sen’s letter to the Sahibganj divisional railway office (written in 1909) is as follows: 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 platform. 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 the papers. It was said that Okhil Chandra Sen’s letter had prompted the railway authorities to introduce toilets in Indian trains.

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Outright Perilous!

An egoist as the head of the government is bad enough. An egotist is a nuisance as his constant chant of I…, I…., I….. jars on the listeners’ years. But when he loses touch with the reality and starts believing his imaginary achievements to be his real achievements, that’s outright perilous.

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