Dhoni’s Pirate Act and Kachhe Aam Ka Zerox

This is meant to be an aside rather than a full-blown post. That way I can keep the blog updated and the scrambled eggs on the stove can also get the attention they deserve. Then of course there is the small matter of rooting for Sri Lanka while they hopefully rout the badass Aussies in the T20 WC. I am suddenly feeling a surge of surrogate patriotism for all my fellow Indians getting battered down under. I am sure Praveen Togadia, Pramod Mutalik and Raj Thackeray would have been in Sidney by now had there been more Hindus than Surds among those attacked. So, you see, it’s all the Aussie hooligans’ fault that our virile triumvirate haven’t been able to say or do much about this sorry episode for Hindustan. Bad bad kitty. And now on to something more methodically mad.

To be sung to the tune of Miss American Pie

Long long time ago, I can still remember,

How xeroxes piled on my bed.

Kristeva and Plato hugged, I hadn’t the heart to sunder them,

So most of them I never read.

And it was sometime during this period that I learnt that calling a photocopy ‘xerox’ was illegal. In our MA final linguistics elective, we were told that there is even a word for it.

Generification – noun; the process of using specific brand names of products as names for the products in general.

There’s a pretty long list of brandnames pirated by an entire community, disenfranchising the brand owner and leading to long-drawn squabbles over proprietary usage. But there is a slight difference when a non-commercially motivated part of the populace uses a brandname as a generic term. Eg: I would imagine the makers of Nirodh are pretty glad that a vast section of users invoke their brandname at the most energetic moment of their lives. Every night. Or day. Similarly, all zip fasteners being called zippers and all photocopy-associates being denominated xerox represent a phenomenon that can be interpreted as marking the complete stranglehold of the respective brands on collective imagination. Of course, it also exposes the brands to the risk of feeding their own competitors through their canonised names, but at least in such cases you cannot blame the domestic speaker-user of sabotaging the brands.

When it does begin to appear a tad, errm, smelly, is when a confectionery maker promotes its raw mango-flavoured candy using the ‘Xerox’ brandname, and then changes ‘xerox’ to ‘zerox’ to avoid persecution. Take away the xerox theme, and suddenly the mango ain’t all that juicy any more. And what about that genius sleight of changing the spelling? It reminds me of  cheap septic-inducing antiseptics called ‘Boronil’ and ‘Borrow Plus’ they used to sell in local trains. Is Parle Agro cracking a joke on my intelligence levels, or do you also sense an ecology thriving on hot air out there?

Hot air has a way of always floating to the top, and hence, it has an easy affinity with those who live at the top. Like Dhoni. His Aircel ads are, politely put, asinine, especially the way he says ‘bla bla bla…What do I do (without my wonder-gadget)?!’, but the latest one about using Aircel’s pocket internet to download songs is particularly hilarious. Aircel carefully allows using the word ‘download’, but there is everything else to suggest that what the ad is alluding to is in fact the much maligned countercultural act of music piracy. There is a very matter-of-fact admission that the internet, among other things, is used to filch your favourite music. Which is very noble of the company of course. And the best part is that when Dhoni says it, it does not sound anymore like a hated crime that is bleeding the music industry white.

Gotta love the man!


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