Once, when I was 5 or 6 years old (so it was in 1984 or 1985), we were walking with my mother, when suddenly she saw a long queue for bananas. She did not like to make her son stand in queues, but she wanted to let me taste bananas. We stood for two hours in the queue (I was a very patient and obedient child), and she told me how tasty this fruit is. The man who stood in the queue right before us bought the last bunch of bananas. There were no more.
Since that day, I became very interested in bananas. One could see them in some Soviet cartoons. They were so beautiful, long and yellow. I tried to imagine their taste. I thought it would be similar to how oranges tasted, just sweeter perhaps. When I finally tasted them, I was shocked how different they were from what I’d fancied. But I loved them. In general, since my early days I loved fruit.
My first taste of bananas was in 1988, when I was aged 9. My father, who became a businessman, approached somebody in the collapsing Soviet trade system and brought home a whole box of bananas. So suddenly there were a lot.
And when I was 10, my father took me on trip to England. And fruit stands became the greatest cultural shock in my whole life.
I just could not imagine how it was possible. You could just casually, walking on the street, actually buy bananas! and oranges! and grapefruits! and even a thing unheard of, the divine fruit called pineapple! Father took a photo of me with such a fruit stand so that people back home would believe us it was real.
And grocery stores, of course. I was never a fan of sausages but hey, fifty different kinds of cheese? In Moscow in the late Gorbachev years, cheese was impossible to buy at all. I hadn’t seen cheese in Moscow for three years. Here, it was a different world.
In February 1989, the whole USSR went crazy about Escrava Isaura (Isaura the Slave), a very beautiful Brazilian TV series about 19th-century Brazil. For a month, nothing else was discussed in the whole country. My mother’s friend used this possibility to show her 8-year-old daughter things she was never able to show her in real life: You see, Anya, this is a banana. And this is a pineapple. Her daughter answered with contempt: Of course they are not real! They are stuffed! The child could not imagine that there was a place in the world, even Brazil, where they do have real fruit.
EDIT: I just understood I should add one more story.
As a child, I loved to read O. Henry. In one of his novellas, two people travel illegally from Latin America to the United States on a cargo ship belonging to the United Fruit Company and feed on bananas during their trip. It was my dream. I was obsessed with that cargo ship.
In Traveller, you can run that banana boat, and bring joy to entire societies.
You can skipper the liner, bringing people to a new life.
You can whack that pirate ship good and hard, knowing that every corsair that goes BOOM means another 2000 lives saved…
(immediately saved, ignoring the follow-up, “the lives that are saved over the next ten years, because of the lives that you saved today”),
and another 450 million credits that doesn’t get stolen.
Be the man.
Be a Traveller.
(And keep that banana boat on schedule!)