Unit 6 Text A
The Green Banana
it might have happened anywhere, my encounter with the green banana started on a steep mountain road in the central area of Brazil. My ancient jeep was straining up through beautiful countryside when the radiator began to leak, and I was ten miles from the nearest mechanic. The over-heated engine forced me to stop at the next village, which consisted of a small store and a few houses that we are scattered here and there. People came over to look. They could see three fine streams of hot water spouting from holes in the jacket of the radiator. "That's easy to fix, a man said. He sent a boy running for some green bananas. He patted me on the shoulder, assuring me that everything would work out. "Green bananas," he smiled. Everyone agreed.
chattered casually while all the time I was wondering what they could possibly do to my radiator with their green bananas.
I did not ask them, though, as that would show my ignorance, so I talked about the beauty of the land that lay before our eyes. Huge rock formations, like Sugar Loaf in Rio, rose up all around us. "Do you see that tall one right over there" asked the man, pointing to a particularly tall, slender pinnacle of dark rock. "That rock marks the center of the world."
looked to see if he was teasing me, but his face was serious. He, in turn, inspected me carefully, as if to make sure I grasped the significance of his statement. The occasion called for some show of recognition on my part. "The center of the world" I repeated, trying to show interest if not complete acceptance. He nodded. "The absolute center. Everyone around here knows it."
that moment the boy returned with an armful of green bananas. The man cut one in half and pressed the cut end against the radiator jacket. The banana melted into a glue against the hot metal, stopping the leaks instantly. I was so astonished at this that I must have looked rather foolish and everyone laughed. They then refilled my radiator and gave me extra bananas to take along in case my radiator should give me trouble again. An hour later, after using the green banana once more, my radiator and I reached our destination. The local mechanic smiled. "Who t aught you about the green banana" I gave him the name of the village. "Did they show you the rock marking the center of the world" he asked. I assured him they had. "My grandfather came from there," ;he said. "The exact center. Everyone around here has always known about it."
a product of American education, I had never paid the slightest attention to the green banana, except to regard it as a fruit whose time had not yet come. Suddenly, on that mountain road, its time had come to meet my need. But as I reflected on it further, I realized that the green banana had been there all along. Its time reached back to the very origins of the banana. The people in that village had known about it for years. It was my own time that had come, all in relation to it. I came to appreciate the special genius of those people, and the special potential of the green banana. I had been wondering for some time about what educators like to call "learning moments" and I now knew I had just experienced two of them at once.
took me a little longer to fully grasp the importance of the rock which the villagers believed marked the center of the world.
I had at first doubted their claim, as I knew for a fact that the center was located somewhere else in New England. After all, my grandfather had come from there. But gradually I realized the village people had a very reasonable belief and I agreed with them. We all tend to regard as the center that special place where we are known, where we know others , where things mean much to us, and where we ourselves have both identity and meaning: family, school, town and local region could all be our center of the world.
lesson which gradually dawned on me was actually very simple. Every place has special meanings for the people in it, and in a certain sense every place represents the center of the world. The world has numerous such centers, and no one student or traveler can experience all of them. But once a conscious breakthrough to a second center is made, a life-long perspective and collection can begin.
cultures of the world are full of unexpected green bananas with special value and meaning. They have been there for ages, ripening slowly, perhaps waiting patiently for people to come along to encounter them. In fact, a green banana is waiting for all of us if we would leave our own centers of the world in order to experience other places.