It’s a muggy afternoon in Mumbai when I call Diipa Büller-Khosla. The New Delhi-born globetrotting influencer is in Amsterdam with her Dutch husband, Oleg Büller, and their two pet dogs, Kubii and Bimbii. Although it’s early in the morning for her, she greets me with an effusive “Hello!” as we begin chatting. She is resolutely upbeat, casting the current challenging COVID-19 circumstance in the most positive light possible. “Moments like these make you realise that you can connect with people from all over the world and echo the sentiment that we’re all in this together,” she says.
Büller-Khosla doesn’t downplay the difficulties. “In the beginning, it was a bit of a roller coaster for us, probably like it’s been for everyone,” she says, sharing her shock over the shutdown, compounded by her deep, conflicting emotions (confusion, exasperation, apprehension and anxiety) towards this ‘new normal’.
In the past few years, the double-tappable rendition of her life continued to hurtle like an express train, taking Büller-Khosla across countries for work, fashion weeks and the humanitarian causes she supports, such as Post For Change, an NGO she founded in collaboration with UNICEF India. “A pivotal part of my job involves travelling; I’d be on a flight twice a week or so sometimes. I have never stayed at home for such a prolonged period.” Now, her days are spent sequestered indoors cooking with Oleg, meditating, and pursuing a degree in marketing.
Exactly a year ago, Büller-Khosla walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival dressed in an achromatic Edwin Oudshoorn Couture dress. But May 2020 paints a painful polarity as it marks two months since everyone retreated into their homes in the Netherlands. “When we went into lockdown in early March, India and the US were still up and running, so we continued working. Our day began as early as 6.30am, to walk the dogs or work out and eventually catch up on emails and phone calls.” Two weeks in, the pair had an epiphany: “Everyone is chilling. Why are we trying to be so productive when everything is shut down?” she says, adding, “I think my body realised it needed to slow down, and so I did.” This off-the-clock phase included a panoply of fun activities such as binge-watching Game Of Thrones and reading self-help books.
“We organise date nights at home”
As befits a storybook narrative, the couple organises regular date nights at home to keep the romance alive. “The most recent one was spontaneous. We pulled out all the stops by cooking together, dressing up and dancing the night away. I would love to continue this ritual even after this is over,” Büller-Khosla says. Her other bastion of refuge has been their impromptu forest getaways: “AirBnB rents these beautiful accommodations in the woods a mere 40-minute drive away. The best part? They are now at one-third the usual tariff. So Oleg and I would take off intermittently over a weekend to envelope ourselves in nature.” Expending energy on exercise is another index to recharge and rejuvenate. “Ours is an active lifestyle; we run at least three to four times a week in the wee hours of the morning, as social distancing prevails. On alternate days, we practise yoga and mediation. To go all in, a hardcore workout with weights and personal training on Zoom is the answer.”
You can argue that being in a complete lockdown with a partner can be tricky and trying. But when I ask about how they manage me-time, her words reinforce the impression of connubial bliss: “Some people need personal time. For us, at least at this moment, I enjoy spending undivided time with him and he enjoys spending time with me. Call it our personality types, but our time together grounds us more.”