Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Souvenirs Can Grow on Trees, If You're Lucky

I have a habit of bringing souvenirs back with me for family and friends from business trips and visits to faraway places. From Chukotka, for example, I brought my parents a walrus tusk, and from the wilderness around Lake Balkhash I brought my children two large tortoises.

From my trip to Israel, I brought a kilogram of avocados -- at a time when such exotic fruits were still relatively unknown in Moscow. The avocados were consumed with great gusto, and the stones licked clean.

I decided to put one of the avocado stones into a pot and cover it with soil, although I didn't think anything would come of it.

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Email the Opinion Page Editor

A few months later, however, I discovered that a thin shoot was poking out of the soil. I thought that one of my children had stuck it there as a prank. I tugged on it, but the shoot would not not give. Then I picked at it with my nail and discovered that it was green. It suddenly struck me that my avocado stone had sprouted!

The little shoot grew not by the day but by the hour, and soon I had a sapling. I wouldn't say it's terribly beautiful, but its long leaves now adorn our Moscow apartment.

I have already recounted that this year I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona. I spent a long time puzzling over what I should take home as a present for my family, especially now that everything is freely available in Moscow. But I couldn't return home empty-handed.

On the Ramblas, I bought several cheap Spanish fans with pictures on them, thinking that they would have some rarity value in Moscow.

I had a few coins left over, so I decided to buy some exotic, genuinely Spanish fruit or vegetables. And then my gaze fell upon some sweet red peppers in a street vendor's kiosk. What a sight! I had never seen such enormous scarlet peppers.

I took the largest pepper I could see and handed the vendor the handful of coins I had left over. The Spaniard, realizing I was a foreigner, broke out into a smile and pushed my hand away. I understood that he was offering it to me as a gift.

Back in Moscow, I presented this monster pepper to my wife. She was as happy as a little girl, and more so than when I gave her the fans. I didn't tell her that, as it turns out, they sell exactly the same peppers at a shop on the corner of our street, and not for 2 euros, but for considerably less.

So what became of the pepper? For several days this wonder of the world was on parade for our neighbors to see. And then when guests came round my wife cut it up into thin strips and offered it up, having carefully removed the bright yellow seeds.

Several of the seeds we planted in a pot. And now we are waiting for shiny scarlet Spanish peppers to grow in the window of our apartment.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.