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November 23, 2015

The Same But Different

Field Trip to India - The Same But Different | Beauty Bets{photo: Cristal Veronica}

Well, I’m back from India with all of the feelings of someone who’s just spent 10 days in a third world and 100 hours on airplanes, buses, camels and tuk tuks: tired, elated, sad, hopeful, confused, overjoyed, jet lagged . . . I’m the same person who walked out the door with nothing but a carryon, and yet so very different. I signed up for Field Trip on a whim, with a hunch that I needed to go but not quite sure why. I tried to prepare myself. I got shots, bought Birks, xeroxed my passport, put tiny things in ziploc bags, and packed 100 drinking straws to avoid whatever mystery bug might be floating on the water bottles (someone in Pushkar really won the lottery when I left those behind in the hotel room).

Then I received the itinerary.

With the exception of a meeting time and location, it was blank. Goddamn those Field Trip guides who wanted us to embrace our sense of adventure. A week before departing, my traveling partner decided not to make the trip. It was clear that this journey was going to be the ultimate act of surrender. If you followed along on Instagram, then you know India was a far cry from my usual five-star existence. There were dead dogs in the street. Garbage everywhere. Sewage instead of sidewalks. I sweated through every outfit I brought. I peed in a hole in the ground. I watched a woman pinch her baby to get my money. One village we visited was so broken down I didn’t want to get off the bus. Speaking of the bus . . . I would’ve never signed up for this voyage had I known it would involve hours each day on a coach with 20 strangers. And yet, those people turned out to be the highlight of India. They humored my straws, cheered me on as I climbed aboard a camel, and held me up while we navigated an alleyway so horrifying I can still smell it when I close my eyes. Friends and family have asked me about the beauty of India, and honestly, it was hard for me to see it at times. Having had a few days to reflect, what I do know is that it changed me. Not in ways you might expect.I don’t want to quit my job and join the Peace Corps. I don’t feel more fortunate because I have indoor plumbing and clean water; Indians are just as happy as we are, maybe even more so.  No, what I realized that I can survive, even thrive, with less. While there may have been a shortage of wifi, hot showers and clean streets, the generosity and kindness of strangers I encountered reminded me what’s most important, and what money can’t buy. That I had the time of my life despite feeling completely out of my element is the garlic naan on top.


I’m overwhelmed by the creativity of my travel companions, especially Lisa + Geoff Bardot of The Goodness, who created a video montage of Field Trip India 2015 that pretty much says it all.

  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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