I remember in one of my college business classes talking about brand names that become synonymous with broader categories (there's a proper term that I can't remember, must have missed that question on the final). You know, like instead of saying photocopy we say Xerox. Or we ask for a Kleanex instead of a tissue. Perhaps some Koolaid to drink, or maybe you'd like a Coke in the south (even if you mean a Dr. Pepper, or Mountain Dew, or RC Cola, to name my favorites). What do you use after a boo-boo? A band-aid. For you in the younger crowd... ever drink from a non-nalgene Nalgene? Or listen to an ipod that's not made by Apple?
In Tanzania, gas stations are known as 'Sheli's'. Very often, English words are Swhiliized by changing the spelling a bit and adding an 'i' to the end. Like baiskeli (bicycle), televesheni (television), or kluchi (clutch). So to hear a gas station called a 'sheli' seemed to make perfect sense. But for a year we've traveled throughout Tanzania, and not until today in Nairobi after seeing an actual Shell station did I realize that I've never seen a single Shell station in Tanzania. From Dar Es Salaam to Morogoro to Moshi to Iringa to Arusha, we've never seen a Shell. There's Gapco, Oilcom, Oryx, Tiot, even BP, but no Shells! And yet, gas stations are referred to as Sheli. Weird, huh?