Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The other side of Kg Buah Pala - Anil Netto

When most outsiders hear of Kampung Buah Pala, they tend to think of it as just another crammed “squatter” settlement, with ramshackle houses, surrounded by rubbish and stray animals.

Let me show you the other side of Kg Buah Pala – a side not often seen by outsiders. The village is actually quite scenic, the houses nestled amidst natural greenery. The wooden houses blend in with nature, standing next to rambutan, neem and coconut trees. It is easy to see why the Koperasi and Nusmetro covet this land. But they will only flatten it with orange soil for their construction work.

“People tend to look down on wooden houses,” said one of the villagers, showing me around. “They think that brick and concrete houses are superior, but then they find it so hot inside such houses and apartments even with fans and air-cons. Do you know, when I was growing up here in the village, we had to sleep under double blankets. It was that cool.”

He told me that his father moved in here in the 1950s and bought the family home for $3,000 back then. “That was a lot of money back then.”

Talking to the villagers, I could sense their pride in the village, their passion and nostalgia obvious.

Another villager told me he was seriously thinking of leaving the corporate world and coming back to nature to rear cows and goats. “I am tired of all the unethical practices I see in the corporate world, having to market products and persuade people to buy what they don’t really need and then having to chase for collection. I would rather sell something (like milk and dairy products) that people actually need and they will then come to me for it.”

When asked if that meant he was thinking of going into hightech, large-scale cattle rearing with modern equipment, he repled, “No, I would rather do it the natural (organic) way.”

I thought I would take photos of all the houses yesterday before the demolition team can bulldoze its way in and swing their wrecker’s ball to flatten the village forever.

But they will have to contend with the villagers’ pride in their heritage and homeland.