If you asked me when I last visited Pondicherry, I would have to think a minute or two, and if you asked how many times I&rsquove been here, I&rsquoll admit I have lost count. What I can say rightaway is that every trip puts a spring (sometimes even a sprint) into my step. So as I stood by the wayside at the start of the scenic East Coast Road out of Chennai, waiting for one of the so-many rattling buses that ply the route, along came the driver of an old Qualis returning from a pre-dawn airport drop, inviting the gaggle of Pondy-bound passengers to hop in for a faster ride. Off we went at 80kmph, wind whipping and FM radio blaring, to be deposited less than three hours later in beloved Pondy. Hurrah It was providence, I tell you. Pondy wanted me back quicker and longer. I had a three-page itinerary of recommendations drawn up for your delectation, dear reader, but there&rsquos only one of them that you really need to remember. To understand and experience Pondy&rsquos creative and resourceful nature better, you will have to keep coming back. Like me, you will find the city hovering irresistibly between la francophonie (the community of French-speaking countries) and sentamizh (pure or good Tamil), where the perfect symmetry of an expertly drawn kolam frames the entrance to a laidback café serving the best croissants this side of Mediterranean. As for the rest, here&rsquos our story.