I am often asked if return to the U.S. from India, where I live half of each year, is a “culture shock.” I feel quite at home in both places; so while the differences are in many ways quite stark, there really is no major adjustment. My acclimation process consists principally of two things: getting my biological clock set to local time and losing the acrid smell of Indian spice from my skin and sweat.
Turmeric, fenugreek, and cumin are, of course, staple spices in Indian cooking from nearly all regions of the subcontinent, and onions and garlic are pervasive aromatic vegetables. One hardly needs to ride a 40-degree Bombay commuter train to know that, whatever these things may do to enhance the cuisine, they turns us all into skunks.
Fortunately, both the jet lag and the redolence of Indian cooking fade within a couple days in California.