By Arré Bench Mar. 16, 2020
For those of you fretting over Western Railway’s announcement that they don’t wash blankets every day, here’s some piece of news. Until 2018, blankets in trains were washed only once in two months. After complaints, they are now washed twice a month.
While the number of coronavirus cases in India steadily rise, and information and misinformation continue to be shared on WhatsApp, the Indian Railways too decided to come clean (no pun intended). BYOB – Bring Your Own Blankets, it announced on Saturday. With the rising coronavirus cases in the country, the Central and Western Railway said that it would withdraw blankets and curtains from the trains as they are not washed every day.
Kindly note that it has been decided to withdraw curtains & blankets from AC coaches of trains as they are not washed every trip, for prevention of #coronavirus. Passengers may please bring their own blankets if need be. Inconvenience is regretted. @RailMinIndia @PiyushGoyalOffc
— Western Railway (@WesternRly) March 14, 2020
In an attempt to curb the growing pandemic, Indian Railways have been taking various measures – right from undertaking cleaning of coaches to openly admitting the unsaid truth about the hygiene of the blankets and bedsheets in Indian trains.
Railways is taking unprecedented precautions to prevent the spread of Novel #Coronavirus infection.
The railway stations and trains are being sanitised to ensure utmost hygiene, making travel safe for passengers. pic.twitter.com/GGTqFjOcS8
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) March 14, 2020
Western Railway’s tweet expectedly caused an uproar, making every other Indian on Twitter go “A-ha!” The truth hardly comes as a surprise, yet netizens seemed pretty ticked off. Many wondered why did the government wait until a life-threatening viral outbreak to own up to the lack of hygiene consciousness within shared public spaces.
Wow, it took a pandemic for you to broadcast the truth. Is this only true for WesternRly?
— Maani (@maaniblr) March 15, 2020
Ohhhhhh boy. What pandemic must we wait for for them to be washed next?
— Minerva (@OnMiNerves) March 15, 2020
Amongst the relatively displeased were those who found much-needed humour within a grim and uh… disgusting situation. One user tweeted, with every ounce of positivity that could be mustered during such circumstances, “Indian Railways. Unifying everyone. All casteist religious bigots, saar you have shared the same blanket 😁 now nothing matters.” Well, checkmate.
Indian Railways. Unifying everyone. All casteist religious bigots, saar you have shared the same blanket 😁 now nothing matters. https://t.co/FYdhoL673I
— somen mishra (@NotSoSnob) March 15, 2020
Another planted the thought that may have implied that the Indian Railways is our home. The tweet read, “Please ask this question to yourself in front of mirror. Do I wash blanket on a daily basis 🤔 But railways provides daily washed sheet together with blanket”. A point was made.
Please ask this question to yourself in front of mirror
Do I wash blanket on a daily basis 🤔
But railways provides daily washed sheet together with blanket https://t.co/y3Vnn9OnET
— VEER PAAAJI 🚩 (@QAIDI_NO_786) March 15, 2020
But not everyone was having a meltdown. Kambili Puthab wrote on Twitter, “No. The blankets are not cleaned every trip. The bed linen is. In fact, one of the linen given is to be used for covering the blanket — many people miss this. The railway has been quite open about this.”
The truth is that nothing about the Railways admittance screams “NEWSFLASH!” In 2018 following the constant complaints of smelly blankets, Indian Railways was forced to put to action a plan that increased the frequency of blanket washing. Breaking away from the then existing practice of washing used blankets ONLY once in two months, the Indian Railways switched to getting the AC coach blankets washed twice a month while choosing washable-friendly materials.
Although this information has been out in the open for everyone, it’s still jarring to realise that the sheets that unconsciously get branded as new, fresh and clean are just another medium to channel a viral or two from one musafir to another