Most of us won't guess it, but numbers indicate that the most popular object to be stolen from carriages of Indian Railways trains is the humble lota — the steel mug used in the lavatories.
According to a report in The Telegraph, the Jabalpur Division of West Central Railway has lost 1,100 of the 1,800 steel mugs it had installed in train toilets over the last three months. This, after taking precautionary measures, such as chaining the mug to the wall of the bathrooms.
Previously, such mugs were provided only in a few bathrooms of AC coaches, but recently it was decided it would be allotted to all compartments. Railway officials clearly underestimated the popularity of this object among commuters.
As one of them told The Telegraph, within 36 hours, 60 new mugs went missing from a Delhi-bound train from Jabalpur. Each of these had been yanked away from the chain that was meant to keep it secure in its place.
From ceiling lights to curtains to blankets, many objects have been coveted by passengers on trains but the popularity of the lota remains bewildering.
Toilets were introduced on Indian Railways after a heart-wrenching crisis faced by a commuter in 1909. He complained to the then British Raj in a letter detailing his travails. The document is now on display at the railway museum in New Delhi. You can read the full text here.
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