Friday, September 04, 2009

The Strength of Bamboos

We share bamboos with the pandas. We built our homes on bamboos whilst they rely their survival on bamboo shoots.

It never occurred to me that how much we used to rely on bamboos. The functions of bamboos have rapidly diminished in a lapse of twenty years in Singapore. Its only surviving function now is to serve as laundry poles to dry our clothes.

Symbol of strength and righteousness

Bamboo represents strength in Chinese culture. Its upright stems serve as a reminder and an aspiration to the attainment of righteousness. Bamboo does not break nor bend easily and that is the spirit that one should achieve—break not in adversity; bend not to monetary temptations. Therefore, bamboo is a favourite motif in Chinese literature and paintings.

Practical functions

Precisely for the fact that it does not break or bend easily, it is a very useful and trustworthy plant for the Chinese. C jokingly suggested that Chinese build their skyscrapers on the back of bamboos. One will find scaffolds constructed entirely on bamboo poles and this is how the Chinese climb their way up one level after another. The workers entrust their lives to this sturdy plant.

Bamboo stools and chairs provide the support that the older generation needs although eco-unfriendly plastic has found its way into the lives of modern Chinese.

Disposable chopsticks definitely cannot do without bamboos. Surprisingly, chopping boards can be made of bamboo too.

Though sturdy as it is, bamboo splits can be woven into baskets, blinds, lamp shades and lattice screens. (Bamboo ladders)

Bamboo segments can be used as a mug, a pen holder, a piggy bank too.

And of course, Chinese consume bamboo shoots without much ado. They would have eaten the stems too if they could. That would probably help to resolve the food crisis issue of the world.

It is quite amazing to think that China, poor as it is/was, she has always been self-sufficient in her own ways. But capitalism has demonstrated the size of power a nation can enjoy and these days, being self-sufficient is simply not enough.

Somehow, I keep thinking that it is the advent of capitalism that brought about poverty to some countries and I wonder, how long can Bhutan stay unaffected by the temptations of capitalism?