Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The house by the river

By some quirk of history, the Southern Command of the Indian Army is headquartered at Pune, in Maharashtra. Apart from the four southern states, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat (!!) also come under the Southern Command. It is not only the largest Command geographically, but also the 'senior-most'; the latter arising from the fact that Surat (in Gujarat), the site of the East India Company's first 'factory' in India, falls under this Command.

The two Area Headquarters under the Southern Command are at Mumbai and Chennai. Needless to say, the one at Chennai covers the four southern states - in army shorthand, it is ATNK & K Area. The ranking officer becomes the General Officer Commanding in Chief for the Area HQ. Of course, the GOC-in-C has a very nicely appointed house to live in; across the road is a sign that could well have become gibberish to the civilian had they insisted on putting in the 'GOC-in-C' bit also - it would have read "ATNK & K Area GOC-in-C, Flagstaff House"

That the Flagstaff House is on the banks of the Cooum is certainly a disadvantage, but one that can easily be borne by Maj. Gen. EJ Kochekkan, the current occupant. A lifelong armyman, he's certainly not going to be put off, no matter how many mosquitoes try to raid his residence!


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