Kapooscan Mari

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 !


  1. Sharmila says:

    Very entertaining. Henceforth Kapooscan mari will be my term of endearment for these ships of the desert. Camel milk tea on me whenever you pass by Dubai.

    1. Jayasri says:

      Great to see you here Sharmila! Hope to take you up on that Kapooscan Mari Tea soon!
      Lovely to see you here pplease keep visiting!

  2. Surya says:

    Great read…that is why they say never allow a Kapooscan Mari into your tent !

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