Multilingual railway coaches

You have heard of multilingual signs on railway stations in India. They will have at least 2 languages, English and Hindi and whatever else is widely used in that area-the regional language such as Tamil or Bengali, Urdu in some states and sub-states, the neighboring state’s language and so on.

There are numerous stations with 4 languages, and at least two with 5: Raichur in Karnataka and Krishna in Telangana, which have English, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Urdu.

Sometimes it seems illogical to find some languages on a signboard, such as in Cachar and two other districts of Assam where the signs have Bengali and not Assamese. (Nothing unusual since Bengali is the official language here).

Sri Lanka seems to have a strict 3-language formula of Sinhala/English/Tamil which is followed regardless of the Sinhala or Tamil population in a particular place.

Bangladesh has a simpler policy: Only Bengali, except for larger stations where English is added.

Pakistan seems to generally follow the Indian pattern with English and Urdu everywhere and regional languages as well, in Sind and parts of KP province but not in Baluchistan.

A few posts on station signs and language policies are elsewhere on this blog.

Anyway, today we look at an unusual coach in Chennai:

MSM wagon 1

MSM wagon 2

Copyright of these pictures is with the original photographer.

These pictures were taken some years ago at the Perambur workshops (NOT the ICF). Not sure where it is now.

As you can see, this broad gauge troop wagon belonged to the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway, and probably dates back to the 1930s or earlier.

In its time, the M & SM (“Mails Slowly Moving”) covered parts of the present Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana.

Thus the sign has English, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Urdu and Tamil which should cover all eventualities where the wagon would carry troops (Not Malayalam, though the Shoranur-Mangalore section appears to have been under the M & SM for some time).

Also note that a British soldier’s bottom is understood to be larger than his native counterpart’s bottom.

 

More odd station signs around India

(Copyright of the pictures rest with the respective photographers)

If one looks at the use of words in English, Hindi and other languages on station signs then many inconsistencies can be found. Here are samples from different parts of the country.

North Lakhimpur

We start with this place in a somewhat remote part of Assam. North is transcribed into Hindi, but one can make out that it is “Uttor” in Assamese.

It is a normal practice to use the Hindi word “Chhavni” for Cantonment. Not everywhere. Here are two examples from Karnataka, where both Chhavni and Hindi Cantonment are used:

Our next stop is the station formerly known as Chakki Bank and now Pathankot Cantt. See the Hindi and Punjabi signs at the same station:

Hope the concerned persons have made up their mind now.

Similarly at Nellore South where both Dakshin and Hindi South are/were used:

(Can someone clarify what is written in Telugu?)

Elsewhere in South India, a standard pattern for Hindi words is not followed:

bengaluru eastkannur southernakulam townernakulam jncoimbatore north

Note that South and Town have been transcribed (not translated) into Malayalam. (Can someone clarify what is written in Kannada for Bengaluru East?)

Various forts:

ankai killachennai fortbekal fortagra fort

 

In Chennai, the Tamil word has been transcribed into Hindi. In Ankai Killa, the suffix is in Hindi unlike in the other places.

Now to some well-known stations in Assam which are now closed:

Lower Haflong closedHaflong Hill

The words Lower and Hill have been transcribed into Hindi and Assamese.

There are many “New” stations on the NF zone, but only one “Old”:New Cooch BeharNew TinsukiaOld Malda

Here the words New and Old have been transcribed into Hindi, Bengali and Assamese.

But for variety we have:

New Amravati is in Maharashtra, hence the top line is supposed to be in Marathi.

Our last stop is at Agra, which has Cantt, Fort and City:

Agra FortAgra CityAgra Cantt

Here at least a consistent pattern has been followed.

But you can see that the usage of English words in Hindi and other languages is quite arbitrary all over the country.

 

Odd station signs in Chennai

Note these station signs where the Hindi inscription seems to have been taken from Tamil rather than English:

Now compare the sign of Park Town above (top right) with the nearby Park:

Chennai Park

One wonders about the logic.

Finally, a similar one from Coimbatore:

Coimbatore North

Stations in different countries with the same name

(Pictures are copyright of the respective photographers):

Here we limit ourselves to South Asia, but we still find a number of examples:

The most well-known pair is:

HyderabadHyderabad Sind

(Possibly the signs would have read Hyderabad (Deccan) and Hyderabad (Sind) in the past.)

Followed by the Indo-Bangladesh pair of:

Jamalpur station

Jamalpur Town (new)

This is near Mymensingh.

Another very similar pair:

Biman BandarDhaka Biman Bandar

The first one is adjacent to Dum Dum airport in Kolkata.

Then we have a small station in Karimganj district of Assam, and a large junction being built near Faridpur in Bangladesh

Bhanga AssamBhanga (BD)-1Bhanga (BD)-2

The station is not fully functional yet, but you can see the nearby police station which has the sign “Bhanga thana, Faridpur”.

Then we have this station in the Indian side of the Thar desert, which once served a town which is a few km away but in Pakistan:

Gadra Road

This town in Pakistan’s Punjab has nothing to do with the state in India:

Gujrat (Pakistan)

There was also a long-closed Kachh station in Baluchistan, on the Chappar Rift line.

This station in Bangladesh will soon get an Indian counterpart nearby:

Hili

Hili on the Indian side will be connected to Balurghat.

There is also a long-closed Belonia station in Bangladesh which served the town of that name in Tripura. In Tripura, the line through Agartala is gradually creeping towards Belonia and beyond. It has already crossed Udaipur, not to be confused with the better-known Udaipur City in Rajasthan.

Going beyond South Asia, there will be a few more matches in the Commonwealth countries and the US. Wellington in the Nilgiris and Wellington in New Zealand comes to mind. Then there is Salem in Tamil Nadu and Salem in Oregon which does have Amtrak service, while the better known Salem in Massachusetts has local commuter service.

 

 

 

Unusual station signs

Here we look at some stations and station signs in India which have something unique or nearly unique about them.

This idea occurred following the announcement of this new station:

Bhubaneswar New

There are numerous stations with the prefix New, especially in the NF zone. But this is the first station name where New is a suffix.

And there is only one important station which has Old as a prefix:

Old Malda

“Old” is transcribed into Hindi and Bengali and not translated.

(There is also an Old Sachivalaya Halt on the Patna-Digha branch. The line’s future is uncertain. There is a better-known Sachivalaya Halt on the Patna-Danapur section.)

Similarly, we look at the points of the compass. At the center there are several stations which have Central as a suffix. But none have Central as a prefix.

We have better luck with North as a prefix:

North Lakhimpur

Interesting that North is transcribed into Hindi but the Assamese word “Uttor” is used.

None for East or South either. For West, we have this one near Kozhikode:

West Hill

Here, West and Hill have been transcribed into Hindi and Malayalam and not translated.

There used to be a Westpoint Halt near Darjeeling listed in older timetables. That used to serve a school with this name.

Finally, this station in the Hyderabad area:

Sanathnagar

There is nothing unusual about the station sign. The station itself is unusual, as a large number of EMUs of the Hyderabad MMTS do not stop there, but many regular passenger trains and a couple of expresses do stop there.

The reason is not very clear. It has been around for a long time and has a large goods yard. Maybe because road access was difficult, a new MMTS station was built at Bharatnagar about 1 km away which is served by the EMUs but not by other passenger trains. This is probably unique in India as a station which EMUs skip but where long-distance trains have a stoppage.

And there is something od(d) about this station, which is one of the two stations in India (along with Ib) which have two-letter names. It was listed as Ode in older timetables.

Od

Note the famous railway writer Vimlesh Chandra in this picture.

The ultimate multilingual signs in India

There are at least two station signs in India which have signs in 5 languages. They are not far apart, but in different states:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARaichur station-5 languages

The upper one is in Telangana, and the lower one is in Karnataka. While traveling from Mumbai to Chennai you will pass both. Raichur is about 26 km to the south of Krishna. Many express trains stop at both, taking about 40 minutes between them.

However, there is this one from the 1940s:

Vizianagaram ( very old)

This is in the north-eastern part of Andhra Pradesh, not far from Odisha. In the 1940s it was part of the Madras Presidency which stretched all the way to Odisha (including Chatrapur where it is said that Alan Turing was conceived.)^

So you see Telugu, Odiya, Hindi, English and Urdu.

Some years later we see:

Vizianagaram (old)

Still 4 languages, with Urdu gone. The English spelling has changed slightly. This would be some time after 1966. But it was never on the South Central Railway.

Today it looks like this:

Vizianagaram

This follows the usual three-language formula. Odiya has also departed.

Those familiar with Indian cricket would have heard of this place because of this person:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maharajkumar_of_Vizianagram

As he was the second son of the ruler, his official title was Maharajkumar and not Maharaja. He is generally known for being an incompetent cricketer and commentator, though he did play some useful role in administration.

^ Alan Turing’s father was in the Madras Presidency cadre of the ICS, and was posted in places which are now in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. He was posted in Chatrapur at the time Alan was conceived. His mother then went to England where he was born in 1912, and he never visited India.

The land of long names

Undivided Andhra Pradesh was the land of long and unpronounceable place names. Make special note of the full names of Shivrampally and Jogulamba at the end. Shivrampally has to accommodate 4 languages on its board.

Bugganipalle CementMachilipatnamVenkatTondalagopavaram

 

ShrungavarapukotaSingareni1

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

NPA Shivrampally