The news that Indian Railways has decided to withdrawn curtains and blankets from the AC coaches of its trains due to hygiene issues in light of the Covid-19 pandemic is not quite as reassuring as it was meant to be.
For, with painstaking bureaucratic precision, the government-run organisation also reiterated that those articles were still washed only once a fortnight, causing predictable anguish. A quilt complex had perhaps led the Railways to admit just over two years ago that these were cleaned once every two months.
But the ensuing furore had only a partial sanitary effect — the frequency was increased to once in 15 days. Given the Indian propensity to use any handy material as ersatz napkins or handkerchiefs, the condition of those 14-days’ unwashed items is best left uncontemplated. In that context, adding the word blanket as a new option for the acronym BYOB (Bring your own b…) is apt.
Of course, the Railways must be complimented for not attempting a cover up of their inadequate washing of dirty linen but withdrawing the items altogether instead, thus ensuring that it’s curtains for such laundering operations.
However, the blanket ban on these two commonly provided items notwithstanding, closer examination of the cleanliness of other linen provided by the Railways — bedsheets, pillow covers and towels — is definitely advisable.