A lot has been written about her already with each article resembling the last one, where they all talk about this woman who is a great cook but does not have a stomach. Of course it grabs eyeballs and one wonders how someone lives a life without a stomach and an appetite! Somehow through all this, I always used to wonder what she thinks of such reactions , and in fact, how does she react to it. I wanted to cross that virtual wall and know the real person behind it.
Natasha Diddee and I have been talking to each other on Instagram for more than a year now, and I like 70,000 others, am a big fan of her work. The everyday cooking, that simple food and those captions which have you hooked to her profile, are such a delight. I’ll be honest, I too was intrigued why someone’s profile was called The Gutless Foodie, and then I read her quirky bio and I was even more drawn to the person behind this beautiful and vibrant visual delight, than just the food. I messaged her once on Instagram and we got talking and after a point the similarities in our lives were almost starting to scare the two of us! From being girls who were brought up in Mumbai, who shifted to Delhi and lived in the same area of South Delhi, to not warming up to the city completely, to having worked for the Swedish Embassy at different points of times…our messages started as strangers and progressed towards familiarity steadily. Obviously, we took the next step and decided to meet. Plans were made (multiple times), but did not materialise, till yesterday, almost a year later.
On my way to her parents place yesterday, I had readied multiple conversation starters, because what if we run out of stuff to talk about? I mean, we hadn’t ever met before, and meeting someone in real life and knowing them on social media are two very different things. I was nervous and slightly hesitant too. I had read her debut novel, Foursome, and wondered which out of the four characters was her. Too many questions and check points. I was ready, I think.
When I reached their place and rang the bell, a warm smile greeted me and the first thing Natasha said to me, “Sorry! I am feeling too lazy to get out of my pyjamas!” I broke into a smile and a sense of relief set in. She was beautiful, with a smile that seriously can light up a room and oh so warm! We didn’t sit in their living room and went straight towards her room in her parents house, where her husband Bengt was sitting and working. We greeted each other and I again felt this strangeness of meeting someone who you’ve seen through the lens of social media on a daily basis but have to greet like you’ve never known them before. Inside me a voice kept saying, “Oh but I know you, already!”
Once settled, we got to talking about food and Instagram (our shared passion) and I was completely taken by her innocence and lack of knowledge about how Instagram works as business! I know it sounds unreal, but here was a woman who is one of India’s finest food influencer, sitting and asking me, “what is an influencer?” I chucked in disbelief and began telling her about how the world of influencers work – the good, the bad and the ugly of it. She sat there with an open mouth, like I had dropped some bomb on her! In walked her mother, Neelam aunty, who joined her daughter’s new found perplexity about a platform that she rules. This snowballed and soon the whole Diddee family sat in disbelief, when Ravindra Uncle (Natasha’s father and a noted Dentist in Mumbai) joked, “mujhe batao yeh kaise hota hai, mujhe Instagram superstar banna hai!” Don’t know about Instagram, but I know someone like uncle would be a straight hit on Twitter with his humour and take on life.
I also met another blogger from Delhi, Anviti Shiromany (Lady.Epicurean) at Natasha’s place. Anviti and I have been planning to meet since a long time, and as fate would have it, yesterday was THE DAY.
Yesterday also happened to be Natasha’s birthday and we celebrated along with her and her family over chai and samosa-jalebi. Together we all sat for a period of four hours and chatted about everything under the roof! From their recent Amritsar trip, to Delhi-Mumbai debate, to social media, and some unmentionable funny stories! Haha. Remember all those conversation starters I had prepared in my head? Yeah, I don’t remember them at all, for they weren’t required with this person and her family. As to me trying understand which out of the four characters from her book is she, I did have an answer to that. She was all of them. Wisely, she had put a peace of herself in each of the four protagonists of Foursome, where to confidently point out the resemblance with her is a difficult feat for anyone who tries. A beautiful, strong woman who follows her passion without expectations of results…she is an inspiration to have, for more reasons than one.
On my way back home I couldn’t stop thinking about how we’ve limited ourselves into the shells of social media that an evening which started with some amount of nervousness from my side turned out to be one of the nicest evenings off late, where new friendships were formed, phones weren’t touched for hours and where everyone made an effort to sit and savour the moment that they were living. I went to meet The Gutless Foodie and came back after meeting Natasha and family (who I’ve promised I’ll visit again!). It is all about transcending the virtual wall, isn’t it?
PS: Follow her on Instagram if you aren’t already!
PPS: Follow her on Tumblr too, as she recently discovered that she’s been blogging there for a while, unknowingly! Haha, thats Natasha for you!