HT Image
HT Image

Can Mumbai go the Toto way?

A whole genre of literature rests on the shoulders of millions of Indians leaving their very own ‘Totoparas’ and settling down in their new homelands. Indrajit Hazra examines...
By Indrajit Hazra | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON FEB 16, 2008 11:20 PM IST

Recently, I found myself part of a captive audience watching a documentary on the Totos, a people belonging to an Indo-Bhutanese tribe living in the predictably named enclave of Totopara in the northern West Bengal district of Jalpaiguri. (I saw that yawn, you reader, you!) The narrator in the film barotinically kept describing the Totos as a ‘primitive tribe’ whose numbers didn’t exceed 1,300. A total population less than the number of tigers in India and slightly less than the number of members of the Mayurvihar Durga Puja Association can be a scary thought even if you’re a firm believer in birth control.

Quite clearly, because of this empirically driven fact, the local culture strongly disapproves of outsiders coming and settling in Totopara — of which there is no fear, considering no one in their right mind (anthropologists and patronising documentary filmmakers not counted) would want to move into a back and beyond underdeveloped spot under the sun like Totopara. But with more practical consequences, Toto society considers moving out of Totopara to be an extremely wrong thing to do. The taboo against a Toto leaving Totopara is palpable.

Added to the diminished numbers is the fact that there is a cultural tussle going on to capture the ‘hearts and tongues’ of the Totos. On one hand, the West Bengal government wants children in Toto schools to learn Bengali. On the other, the Government of India is pushing for Hindi. This is the ‘Tibetan’ question in a much smaller, quieter, Richard Gere-less sub-Himalayan context. The fact that the Toto language has no script makes the cultural tussle even more tug-of-war-ish.

But I am no anthropologist, nor was I meant to be. In fact, even while writing this, I have yawned at least two times more than you already have. But while the documentary droned on, I latched on to one aspect of the Toto story. So what happens if a rebellious Toto youngster wants to leave Totopara? What if he’s tired and bored of the same bloody pigs, the same bloody bucolic surroundings, the same bloody fellow Totos? Will he have to face the wrath of the elders if he shouts, “I want to get out of this hellhole! I want to live in the big city!’? Will his ‘crime against society’ overwhelm his drive to break out and be the James Dean of Totopara? Can the Totos ever have a Salman Rushdie? In other words, are Totos individuals or just fragments of an endangered community?

Migrating and being part of a diaspora have been celebrated enough. A whole genre of literature rests on the shoulders of millions of Indians leaving their very own ‘Totoparas’ and settling down in their new homelands. But do remember a time when crossing the ‘kala paani’ — the black waters — meant losing your caste (at a time when losing one’s caste was as big as not having enough credit rating to book a Nano today). Even as the ‘diminishing numbers’ logic that makes Totos — or, for that matter, Tibetans — hold on to each other for dear communal life, I can’t help but be thankful that no member of my

17-member tribe (haters of Rabindrasangeet and Karan Johar movies, and lovers of science fiction writer Philip K Dick and pointless, frivolous, yawn-inducing writings) ever hunted me down for leaving my ‘Totopara’. Well, unlike the migratory Toto, my absence wasn’t that palpably felt, I guess.

So while the bhatija in Mumbai rails against the bhaiyyas, I wonder what the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena cartoon has to say about Maharashtrians leaving Maharashtra and settling outside. He may not have a problem with numbers like the Totos do, but he also feels the fear of a culture that is rapidly fading. The old Shiv Sena culture, after all, isn’t as pervasive as it used to be in the good old days. Maybe it’s time for Raj Thackeray to go to Totopara and pick up a few solid tips — which includes the Toto elders setting their pigs on him.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Actor Taapsee Pannu is currently shooting for her film Loop Lapeta.(HT_PRINT)
Actor Taapsee Pannu is currently shooting for her film Loop Lapeta.(HT_PRINT)

'According to our finance minister': What Taapse Pannu said on 2013 I-T raids

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:06 AM IST
The raids were also to search her memories of the 2013 raid that happened at her properties, Taapsee Pannu said on Saturday.
Close
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.(HT photo)
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.(HT photo)

Odisha: State govt to increase funds for MSMEs, says CM Patnaik

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:45 AM IST
While inaugurating the MSME Trade fair 2021 through Video conferencing, the Chief Minister said "In the next financial year, the budget of MSME Department is being substantially increased.
Close
Visitors from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala nd Maharashtra will need RT-PCR tests to enter Rajasthan.(Representational image/HT PHOTO)
Visitors from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala nd Maharashtra will need RT-PCR tests to enter Rajasthan.(Representational image/HT PHOTO)

Rajasthan makes negative Covid report mandatory for visitors from 4 more states

By Jaykishan Sharma
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:37 AM IST
  • A statement form the Rajasthan Chief Minister's Office cited rising Covid-19 cases in the neighbouring states for the decision to insist on negative Covid reports for visitors.
Close
The accused allegedly took money from the woman under the pretext of his medical treatment on various occasions in last two years,(Representational Photo)
The accused allegedly took money from the woman under the pretext of his medical treatment on various occasions in last two years,(Representational Photo)

Nagpur man befriends nurse on matrimonial site, dupes her of 40 lakh

By Vijay Kumar Yadav
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:09 AM IST
  • The woman who suspected foul play, checked the accused's Facebook account and found out that he was regularly chatting with another woman, who turned out to be his wife.
Close
Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in Ladakh area.(AP file photo)
Indian army trucks drive near Pangong Tso lake near the India China border in Ladakh area.(AP file photo)

'India-China border tensions reflect growing Chinese aggression': Kahl

PTI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:43 AM IST
The past decade has seen promising trends in the US-India defence trade and technology relationship, Biden's pick for Pentagon said.
Close
Mumbai: Civic workers sanitize the premises CSTM amid coronavirus pandemic in Mumbai, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_23_2021_000161B)(PTI)
Mumbai: Civic workers sanitize the premises CSTM amid coronavirus pandemic in Mumbai, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_23_2021_000161B)(PTI)

Active Covid-19 cases above 1.8 lakh, with 18,327 new infections in 24 hours

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:55 AM IST
In the beginning of Februray, India's active cases dropped below 1.5 lakh. The gradual rise indicates a definite resurgence, as the vaccination programme is going on full swing.
Close
Rakbar and his friend Aslam were beaten up. While Aslam managed to escape, Rakbar succumbed to his injuries and died in an Alwar hospital.(HT file photo)
Rakbar and his friend Aslam were beaten up. While Aslam managed to escape, Rakbar succumbed to his injuries and died in an Alwar hospital.(HT file photo)

Final hearing of Alwar lynching case to be held today. Here's a recap

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:19 AM IST
Rakbar Khan was allegedly killed by people who claimed to be 'gau rakshaks' in suspicion of cow smuggling.
Close
"The PM would arrive here on Saturday morning to address the gathering. He is scheduled to leave on the same day," news agency PTI quotes a senior official as saying.(REUTERS)
"The PM would arrive here on Saturday morning to address the gathering. He is scheduled to leave on the same day," news agency PTI quotes a senior official as saying.(REUTERS)

News updates from HT: PM to address Combined Commanders' Conference today

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:04 AM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
An Assistant Commandant of CRPF’s CoBRA was killed and seven others were injured in an IED blast in Chhattisgarh(PTI file photo)
An Assistant Commandant of CRPF’s CoBRA was killed and seven others were injured in an IED blast in Chhattisgarh(PTI file photo)

ITBP jawan killed in Maoist IED blast in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:33 AM IST
  • It was the second Maoist attack in the last two days in Chhattisgarh.
Close
The Supreme Court of India..(HT PHOTO)
The Supreme Court of India..(HT PHOTO)

SC seeks Centre’s response to trace Army captain in Pakistani jail since 1997

By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:05 AM IST
  • A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) asked the petitioner's lawyer to compile a list of similarly placed officers of the Indian armed forces still languishing in Pakistani jails.
Close
Maulana KR Firangi Mahali of the Islamic Centre of India said the woman's video is a message to all Muslims to end the dowry system.(ANI Twitter)
Maulana KR Firangi Mahali of the Islamic Centre of India said the woman's video is a message to all Muslims to end the dowry system.(ANI Twitter)

End dowry system: Leaders speak up after Gujarat woman allegedly dies by suicide

Written by Prashasti Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 08:39 AM IST
The 23-year-old woman allegedly jumped into Ahmedabad's Sabarmati river soon after she shot the video in which she is seen troubled due to her relationship with her husband.
Close
Uddhav Thackeray is not in favour of imposing lockdown in the state.
Uddhav Thackeray is not in favour of imposing lockdown in the state.

Maharashtra adds over 50k new cases in 6 days: What ministers said on lockdown

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:50 AM IST
Going by Thackeray's deadline of 8 to 15 days to review the Covid-19 situation of the state, a decision on whether new restrictions will be imposed across the state is likely to be made after February 8.
Close
Former Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi wo resigned on Wednesday over allegations of sexual exploitation.
Former Karnataka Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi wo resigned on Wednesday over allegations of sexual exploitation.

Court restrains media from airing Karnataka minister's alleged sex tape

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:40 AM IST
  • The order was issued after hearing an injunction suit filed by Ramesh Jarkiholi’s lawyers on Wednesday. The suit had named 68 media houses, channels and others.
Close
Alex Ellis, British high commissioner to India.(MINT)
Alex Ellis, British high commissioner to India.(MINT)

British envoy says farmers' protest is India’s 'internal issue'

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:16 AM IST
  • High Commissioner Alex Ellis also said more debates on the farmers' protest should be expected around the world as India takes on a greater role on the global stage
Close
Health worker in PPE kit collects swab sample at the market at Boring road for Covid 19 test, in Patna, Bihar.(HT photo)
Health worker in PPE kit collects swab sample at the market at Boring road for Covid 19 test, in Patna, Bihar.(HT photo)

LIVE: Jump in India's daily Covid-19 count, reports 18,327 new infections

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:53 AM IST
The global coronavirus tally is over the 116 million-mark with the death toll crossing 2.5 million, as per the John Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP