Most of these schools were located in rural towns and villages where access were sometimes a problem. I loved my short stint while being involved in the project. It gave me the opportunity to travel to all corners of Johor state and reach the remotest of places in all 8 districts.
In the district of Segamat, there is a small town on the main road heading north to Kuala Lumpur, called Buloh Kasap. I have passed by this place a few times on my trips to KL but the first time I actually made a stop was when I attended a handing-over ceremony of a completed school. In the days before the North-South Expressway, a trip to Segamat from JB would take up to 3 hours. That can be considered as a very far distance but I was a young man then... any outstation trip to visit projects was always fun and worth the drive.
Buloh Kasap got its name from a certain type bamboo plant that is said to have grown abundantly in the area... at least, that's what historical reference sources tell us. Buloh is bamboo while kasap means coarse or rough. I take it that this refers to the skin or surface of the bamboo. I don't actually know how a coarse bamboo plant looks like. The ones I see growing in jungles or by river banks are normally dark green and have smooth outer surface. These are the type that lemang-makers use.
|This clump of bamboo is certainly not the kasap variety. Definitely not suitable for making lemang.|
The term `buloh kasap' is also widely-known as being used in a Malay proverb. According to Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka, the full proverb goes like this -> Berniaga bagai buloh kasap, hujungnya hilang, pangkalnya lesap. The Malay saying means wasteful work being done by someone who doesn't have the knowledge or skills to do it. In particular, it refers to a loss-making business venture caused by the person's own weakness.
As always, I like to ask the mystery question. How does a particular type of bamboo plant gets connected to poor business decisions?
The idea for this post came after I heard my mother use the saying the other day. My youngest sister has started a small makan business selling nasi lemak, satay, mee siam and a few other stuff from a rented stall. She has asked our mother for some cooking tips on how to make her dishes more tasty. Mom would of course, share her secrets... but not before nagging to my sister to be careful about this, be aware about that, take care about the cash collection, don't pamper your workers, don't hutang too much, plus a whole lot of other business advice. She knows what she's talking about, being a small-time businesswoman herself when she was younger. `Jangan berniaga macam buloh kasap,' she warned, `Untung tak ada, modal pun lesap.'
Mothers... they may nag non-stop, but they have the welfare of their children at heart :-)