No, It is not about the famous train to Jaipur, it is about the life in the Army. Atleast for the families, life is nothing but ‘palace on wheels’ and for the army personnel themselves, the word army may sometimes be substituted by ‘jungle’.
Palace or jungle, the real operative word is ‘wheels’. Life in the army is like being always on the move. Like a traveller, you can experience the weather change ,look at a city through its railway station, but never be part of the town.
There is a time in life, when you want to get away from the train and get on with real life in the town, among real people. But then you are too scared to to leave the security of the train and venture into the big bad world of town people.
Even the families opt to stay in the railway stations (Read ‘Cantonments’) at times when the ‘palace’ turns into ‘jungle’ (Read ‘Field Station’). A few daring ones stay in the town but come back to the cosy comfort of the train after two years.
As always there are pros and cons to everything, including life on wheels. The advantages first; there is security and for the officers and families there is a tremendous sense of a privileged existence, since they travel ‘Deluxe class”. Though people keep moving in and out of the train, you do get good company. You get to see a lot of places and meet a lot of people though under controlled settings.
The disadvantages include the inability to settle down anywhere. There are no long lasting friends and no relatives, unless they are co passengers. Staying 24 x 7 with the same people, there is an artificial existence. The worst damage is the kind of belief that the world is just the train and the railway stations. The feeling of animosity comes out through the not infrequent reference to ‘The B—– town people (Read ‘civilians’)’
The divide between the train and the towns is really widening. Particularly for the officers and families, ‘deluxe class’ existence is unaffordable outside the train, due to the currency variation. The classic case is the kind of people who are born in a train, live the entire life in trains and settle down in a railway station, when too old to keep moving.