Small Aubergining

August 21, 2019

Many years ago, before the 🍆¬†emoji gave it a double meaning, the brinjal’s greatest nonculinary achievement was to be in the catchphrase of Meera Syal’s grandmother character in the BBC’s British Asian sketch comedy series,¬†Goodness Gracious Me.

The sketches aren’t online, alas, so I’ll summarise quickly for anybody who hasn’t seen them. The grandma, in any situation where somebody is buying something – informs them smugly that she can make it at home for nothing. All she needs is an ingredient, another ingredient, and a small aubergine. The situations range from supermarket shopping to fine dining, to Masterchef, and eventually to a heart transplant.

I now propose that we honour this frugal grandma by using the term ‘small aubergining’ to describe a particular sort of shopping. That is, to spot some sort of clothes, jewellery, handicrafted accessories, or similar on an international website; to then roll your eyes at the first world prices, and finally, to take a screenshot or printout of the said product to your local tailor, jeweller, or carpenter and have them duplicate it at Indian prices – that is, practically nothing. Bonus points, or the term ‘advanced small aubergining,’ if you don’t even take it to a local craftsperson but do it yourself.

For example, a British lady is selling covers for A5 notebooks on etsy for $17.63 plus shipping. They are extremely nice covers, but my mind revolts at paying that much. So I small aubergined these covers by taking an old pair of jeans to a tailor in Hauz Khas market, who turned them into four covers for just 500 rupees. Like so:


Yes, the notebook sticks out a bit, and if the cover could have had a zip or button or other fastener it would have been even better, but I’m considering this an early prototype. The point is that I found a First World Solution on Etsy, and small aubergined my way into paying Third World Prices. It feels amazing.