Pondicherry, the South Indian coastal town, union territory and former French colony, is a city unlike any other in India. Here, the game of pétanque is as commonplace as a minithali sambar-rice lunch, or the briny tang drifting out of Goubert Fish Market first thing every morning… The French sport’s slower pace and quieter sounds reflect a different cultural trajectory compared to the rest of the country. Indeed, it is one of many aspects or Pondicherry that make the city wholly distinctive. Everywhere you look there are elements of the place that are local and foreign, unusual and traditional, all at the same time.
Besides its hybrid identity, the city is also an important spiritual centre, a hub for alternative education, a quasi-extension of the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, an ecological and environmental bastion—and, thanks to a liberal liquor license, a party town. Tapping into every aspect of Pondicherry, in Beyond the Boulevards, Aditi Sriram captures the substance of a city that is a contrast of colours, languages, religions, and cultures.