Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Coarse bamboo

In the late 1980s at my first workplace in Johor Bahru, I was in charge of the construction of the Islamic religious schools throughout the state. The project was funded by the State Government and the organisation I worked in acted as Project Managers.

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 at least, that's what historical reference sources tell us.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 :-)

20 comments:

Pak Zawi said...

Fathil,
I never knew of the meaning of kasap until you mentioned it here. I thought it was corrupted from the word Kasar. I guess the one in the proverb was just to rhyme with the word lesap since it is a pantun.

Oldstock said...

Pak Zawi,

It is quite possible that kasap is a variant of kasar. Kamus Dewan gives the same meaning for both words.

I had thought about that rhyming part too. Perhaps the buloh has no meaning attached to it. Just like another well-known peribahasa in pantun form... kerana pulut santan binasa...

Wan Sharif said...

if not for nagging mothers.. we might not be what we are today.. street smart etceteras..

3yearshousewife said...

Landmark wise,I identify Buloh Kasap in Segamat with the halfway old bridge above the river.
I guess if you have that big a bamboo (in your pic)for lemang, one is enough for the whole raya.

Oldstock said...

Ayoh Wang,

So true... we owe a lot to our nagging mothers.

But nagging wives.... now that's an entirely new ball game, hehe...

Oldstock said...

As,

Yes, that broken bridge is a landmark in Buloh Kasap. Next time I pass by there I want to take some pics.

The buloh in the pic is found in FRIM Kepong. Buloh burma, they call it. Kalau guna buat masak lemang, mahu sebulan tak masak-masak :-)

mamasita said...

I only read your posting today..hmm
I thought so..
Heard the buloh kasap word a few times..that's it!
My late mum selalu mentioned it..hehe
She was a small time business woman..:)

Pat said...

And I learnt something new today :)

You are a born story-teller, Fadhil.

Oldstock said...

mamasita,

It seems like a lot of our mothers were small time businesswomen. My mom told me that her mother (my grandmother) also traded in things (kain baju dan barang harian) to people living in the inner kampungs. Zaman Jepun dulu, bukannya ada transport sangat. Tak rasa takut pun orang tua tu...

Oldstock said...

Pat, story-teller okay... but not story-spinner, hehehe...

somuffins said...

Story spinner as in putar alam? Haaa..harap tak, hehe..

Oldstock
Agaknya bilalah mulanya anak2 faham akan kenyataan "Mothers... they may nag non-stop, but they have the welfare of their children at heart". What abt you??

BTW, my mum tak kaki nag but my father, masyallah! Tapi bila I dah bijak (as always, haha), I equate every bit of his nagging as words of wisdom.

Oldstock said...

Cik Som,

I have survived my mom's nagging all these years and it has taken me to where I am today. The trick was in doing things properly that would not give her the reason to nag.

But looking at it in another way, my wife is not the nagging type and I believe my sons have turned out well, so far. So it is a question of approach.

And if I may ask you back, you kuat membebel kat anak2 you ke Cik Som ;-)

doc said...

do nagging wives share the same DNA as nagging mothers?

nagging wives learned from their mothers - how they get the fathers to submit, so they do likewise to their own husbands.

however, sons, after years of nagging by their mothers, should become immune to their wives' nagging.

just a theory la!

Al-Manar said...

I wonder what buloh perindu looks like.

Oldstock said...

Doc, good theory but I can't give practical examples from my own experience. My wife is not the nagging type and from what I've seen of my late mother-in-law, I don't think she was the nagging type too.

And be careful my friend, mothers nagging to sons are different from wives nagging to husbands, hehe....

Oldstock said...

Pakcik Al-manar,

I've also not seen the buluh perindu but from what I understand, it has certain properties that many men seek to use.

Cara said...

I have seen a specie of bamboo before but I am not sure of these are the coarse bamboo that you are referring to. The skin is fully covered with tiny thorns which looks like hair on the bamboo. The young shoots of these bamboo are supposedly the most sedap when masak lemak with ikan masin. If I'm not mistaken, I saw these in East Malaysia.

somuffins said...

Oldstock

Sesungguhnya I cant say I am the nagging type; but giving advice, I must :-)

Oldstock said...

Cara,

There are a few types of bamboo with hair-like thorns that can cause real discomfort if you happen to touch them. But I'm not sure if these are the ones they call the kasap variety. And yes, bamboo shoots cooked lemak-style are very tasty :-)

Oldstock said...

Cik Som,

Tegur menegur tu satu amalan yang baik :-)