Okhil Chandra Sen may not find a mention in our history books. But he is responsible for one of the greatest public utilities: toilets on Indian trains.

Roused by an unfortunate incident at Ahmedpur station in 1909, Mr Sen felt compelled to write a complaint letter to the Sahibganj divisional railway office. This seemingly innocuous letter—which recounts the hilarious mishap and his own indignation—actually launched an investigation by the British Raj which subsequently, led to the installation of toilets in the train carriages for the very first time.

Unfortunately, we could not get our hands on Sen’s original letter. However, if you wish to see a recreated version, you can visit the National Railway Museum in New Delhi on a quiet Sunday morning.

For now, enjoy Okhil Chandra Sen’s revolutionary letter!


Dear Sir, 

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.

Your’s faithfully servent
Okhil Ch. Sen.

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