It could be the entrance of a park attached to some monument or it could be the backyard of some city railway stations. You would see them, scattered all over these places. “Look at these pictures… these replicas… cheap and best” you hear the parrot-like repetitions of these words, though only one in a hundred cares to look at them. Here, I must tell you an interesting incident. I was travelling in a general compartment of a crowded local train. One seller of pictures and replicas was doing his best to draw the attention of the travellers. He did manage to sell a few items but the behavior of one traveller was rude and aggressive. “Get lost, you son of a b…” was his response when the seller approached him. The seller was not all that upset by the traveller’s reaction and left the spot with a smile but some of us asked him why he was rude. “If you don’t want to buy any of his stuff, just ignore him, but you were brutal…” When he was cornered, he simply opened a metal box by his side and said “just see what this box contains… This chap knows I am a seller myself…” Yes, there were post card size photos and replicas of monuments in his box.
We are quite used to such practices in India especially in places of historical importance. But, to my pleasant surprise, I came across several such ‘sellers’ in Paris. We were on our way to Eiffel tower and we took a train to a station (I forgot the name of the station from where it was just walkable distance). All these guys carried pictures and replicas of the famous tower. On seeing them I wondered for a while whether I was really in Paris. Even the buildings resembled the ones we see in Mumbai or Delhi!
When you are travelling by bus or train from Netherlands to Paris you have to remind yourself, off and on, that you are not travelling to a hill station or to Kerala in India!