Original Esperanto Version

Siberian Memories

Ice Cream in Paradise

A Siberian Memory
translated from the original Esperanto by the author
Liland Brajant ROS’

Soviet Flag
Probably the city was Khabarovsk, but maybe it was Irkutsk. In any event, after supper our Intourist guide invited us to stroll to Lenin Park. The rides and other amusement devices in this park were mostly pretty crude and simple, such as a little merry-go-round that you had to push by hand to set it rotating; but there was a solitary motorized apparatus there: a huge Ferris wheel, which in my fantasy is the biggest such wheel I had ever seen, certainly the highest I'd ever experience myself. And besides its height that wheel had another unique feature: while it rotated, carrying the passengers sitting on its benches to a point high above the city, whence the twilit landscape was really quite impressive, the wheel also revolved at its base, so that while on the ride you could not only see the city from a great height, but also look at it in all directions.
USSR (1968)

Following this impressive and pleasurable look at the city, which to a degree countervailed against the impression of backwardness given by the rest of the rides, the tour guide proposed that we have some ice cream, which an old babushka was selling from a pushcart. We willingly acceded to the suggestion, and my little sister Sumiko, then eight, exclaimed, "I want strawberry!" And the tour guide had to explain, with some embarrassment, that there was only vanilla, just the one flavor, ... "But..." she said, and her eyes grew round with wonder, and you could see that she was speaking of her concept of paradise: "... when you get to Moscow and Leningrad, you will find four flavors!!!!!" Well, for us kids, who had been born into the American culture of Baskin & Robbins' 31 Flavors, and who had just come from Japan, where they even had banana and chocolate flavored toothpastes, four flavors of ice cream was not at all impressive, and the idea of just one flavor, vanilla — Henry Ford had said of cars, that he would sell you one in any color you desired, so long as it was black, and I was beginning to suspect Mr. Ford of Communism — the idea of just one flavor seemed absolutely barbaric! We began to comprehend, in our American-childish way, why the Russians in general didn't want to move to Siberia.

Well, we didn't eat any ice cream in Moscow, because we were all a bit nauseous that day, but sure enough in Leningrad, at the Winter Palace, we found a kiosk where they were selling ice cream, and we enjoyed the four flavors that defined Heaven for that Khabarovsk tour guide: vanilla, and vanilla with chocolate syrup, and vanilla with crushed peanuts, and vanilla with crushed corn flakes! "And our eyes were opened, and we saw that the Siberians were naked and ought to be ashamed." ;-)

The background music was The Internationale
the anthem of the international socialist labor movement
Click to play: MIDI

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