What on earth is Kapooscan Mari?
A train of camels arrived at a little village in the boondocks of Dharwad four score years ago. The villagers had never seen anything like it. So if you were to ask them , “have you seen a dancing camel?” they would reply, “what’s a camel?”
The camels were probably being taken by their owners from Rajasthan on a journey that would end at Bakrid, on not exactly a joyful note for them. Or you could pay for a ride on the hump of the what is arguably the ugliest animal. Not that the villagers knew any of that. Curiosity getting the better of the younger denizens of the village, a group of them marched up to the caravan and asked the camel owners, “What kind of animal is that?
They spoke in Kannada, which the camel -owners did not know, and they replied, “Kya poochte ho?” What do you ask?
After a few more futile attempts to translate or convey their meaning through a combination of dumb charades, and not-so-dumb charades, and repeating “kya poochte ho?” ad nauseum, it began to sound like “kapoosca”.
The village lads concluded that this was a caravan of kapooscas and their young ones- kapooscan mari. The word passed down the group and soon everyone was marveling at the kapooscan maris with their humps,
The young one of a Kapoosca.
The Kapooscan Mari is a tale of “Lost In Translation” froim the life and times of S, and was brought back to school by some of the boys who had abandoned the Sardar High School hostel for the summer holidays. S (Appa) only shared it with his family a few months back, in the days following Amma’s death, and it has come be used frequently- to break the monotony of a long silence even though two or more members of the family have been lounging around for over an hour without exchanging a word; as and I-don’t-know when a question is asked , and you don’t know the answer. Or simply for the joy of calling a camel Kapooscan Mari .
And when you say, “but kapooscan mari, …….” .you are redefining the terms of endearment with the spouse or the niece .
I wonder if the village in the boondocks has confronted the reality of kapooscan mari . They’ve probably googal-ed it by now. And learnt that the sandscape of Rajasthan is awash with camels, there are camel fairs at Pushkar. At Bikaner camels dance, , run in races, and the Border Security Force has a camel band that performs at the Republic Day parade,. There are more camels in Rajasthan than in Saudi Arabia . And apart from being ugly, they are considered brainless and gullible and pay for their stupidity with their lives in the Panchatantra.
However, if you can get used to saying Holy Camel! they are nearly as sacred as cows in some Rajasthan communities. A devi with a camel-head is the family deity for some clans, and some goddesses even come riding camels to shower their blessings on deserving devotees.
At the Hanuman temple in Bangalore, where one ties a coconut, and does 41X4 pradakshinas over 16 days to get your wish fulfilled, a little camel in black stone crouches humbly in front of the monkey-god. The pujari tells me the camel is Hanuman’s mount.
Why does Hanuman need a mount? And why camel? Questions that clearly call for throwing up your hands and exclaiming, “Kapooscan Mari!”
Diverting as these droll references to the dromedary and its place in nature’s scheme of things are, camels do have a purpose . This completely domesticated beast can travel long distances , and can access resources in ways that no other animal can. They never have to worry about dehydration between watering holes, and can go an entire season without needing to drink water. Water is their fuel, and they given great mileage ! As for food, they are the most “kindly adjusting” creatures. Vegetation, meat, bones, salt, sweet, bland, anything goes with the kapooscan mari. Docile and sweet under a caring hand,they can be stubborn and angry if ill treated.
This is the point, perhaps, that Hanuman seeks to make, in picking the camel for his mount. Next time a camel ambles into town, I mean to welcome the kapooscan mari with all the devotion that the invisible Hanuman astride it deserves!!
Meanwhile, if anyone of you ever end up in a village where the camel is referred to as kapooscan mari, do let me know . And, , feel free to add kapooscan mari to your own lexicon, with due acknowledgement of copyright !