Thursday, March 26, 2009

A blast from the past - a letter from 1909!!!

Here is a letter that has scored a century and has played its part in changing the course of history or rather the way the Indian Railways the good old days of the British Raj - the rule of India by the British Crown, which lasted from 1858 until 1947 (the rule of parts of the Indian subcontinent by the East India Company beginning after 1757 and ending in 1858 - Company rule in India).

Note: The British Indian Empire (contemporaneously, the Indian Empire), is referred to the British Raj after 1876, when Queen Victoria was proclaimed as the Empress of India.

The letter: Akhil 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 "Travelers' Tales" in the "Far Eastern Economic Review."

Lets call it "Akhil Babu's letter" - "Babu" also spelled "Baboo" is a South Asian/Bengali term of respect towards men (read more on this, courtesy Wikipedia - Babu).

.......Following is the "classic" letter:

"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. 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 honor to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers."

Any guesses why this letter was of historic value??................It apparently led to the introduction of toilets in trains!

Thank God for small mercies!

Photograph: A caricature of the Indian Railways.


  1. Interesting post! Did that introduce toilets in trains for the first time in India or was it the first time in the world?

  2. In India...thats why the pic shows a caricature of the 'Indian Railways' and I have referred to the 'British Raj' and the 'Company rule in India.'

    I have also mentioned that this letter is on display at the "Railway Museum" in New Delhi apart from dwelling on the word "Babu"/"Baboo" in detail.