In 1909, after missing his train due to an ultimately disastrous trip to the lavatory at Ahmedpur station, an embarrassed, angry young man named Okhil Chandra Sen sent an unintentionally amusing letter of complaint to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in West Bengal. The letter proved to be an important one as, according to the Railway Museum in New Delhi, the subsequent investigation into the affair by the British Raj resulted in the introduction of toilets to all trains in the country; something that had been absent since the formation of Indian Railways in 1857.
The original letter is held in the museum’s archives. Below is the version they have on display.
Transcript follows. Image kindly supplied by Richard Fellowes.
I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefor 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 shocking to man and female women on platform. I am got leaved Ahmedpur station.
This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train minutes for him. I am therefor pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers.
Your’s faithfully servent,
Okhil Ch. Sen.