Dije kejang Rinsoe Cang kar ngumbah Hondane


Dije kejang Rinso-e? Cang kar ngumbah Honda-ne!

A curious habit I’ve noticed people have in Bali is to refer to everyday items using either their brand name or something that is associated with it, rather than the actual name of the item.

According to Balinese I’ve talked to about this, this habit appeared around the 70s when motorbikes started to become a household item. Then the most popular brand was Honda, so most folks called a motorbike a – you guessed it – “Honda”. A camera, a curious ‘foreign’ item mostly carried by tourists, was a “Kodak” because Kodak was also the name of the place you both bought film and printed your photos; washing powder was “Rinso”; soap was “Gip” (GIV); toothpaste was “Pepsoden” (Pepsodent); “Soptek” (Softtex) for sanitary pads and cigarettes were called “Gudang Garam”. Over time, most of these labels have fallen out of fashion simply because they have been eclipsed by more successful brand names.

The more Bali was opened up to consumerism, particularly in the Megawati era, more and more everyday items were referred to by their brand: Indomie for instant noodles; “Pempes” (Pampers) for diapers; “Aqua” for drinking water; “Sankis” (Sunkist) for imported oranges; Masako for MSG, and Ipad (but pronounced “Eh-pad”) for any kind of tablet device. Brand names are sometimes mixed with an Indonesian word to describe a type of food: for example, “ayam KFC” means any kind of crispy fried chicken. Or a country becomes a way to identify a type of fruit: “apel Nyuzilan (New Zealand apples)” to mean any kind of red apple.

Balinese are used to generalizing: anyone with white skin was traditionally a “nak Jawa/Jawi” (outsider), “tamu” (guest) or “toris” (tourist) and any Indonesian with white enough skin and more slanted eyes was “Cina” (China) or “Jepang” (Japan). However, we shouldn’t see this as racist, this was just cultural generalization passed on over generations.

It actually really surprises me that with pretty much all Balinese now owning a mobile phone that it’s not referred to as a “Samsung” or an “Eye-pon”… but now that brands are going in and out of fashion nearly every year, I wouldn’t hold ya breath.

Copyright  Kulture Kid 2014
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