Kali, goddess of destruction, consort of Shiva, favors this unexpected Calcutta, named after her riverside temple on the Sacred River Ganges. She hovers over the town, her thin dugs and fiery tongue pendant. Serpents writhe around her waist and arms, and the heads of her enemies hang by their hair from her belt; from time to time, blood will trickle out one of the open necks and drop onto the street, leaving a brown pancake in the dust abuzz with flies.

Should a visitor in search of Old Norse Calcutta make the long drive through the hills as far as the valley, he would never venture down, what with a slavering, six-armed goddess, her skin black and shiny as lacquer, riding the thermals above the town on hissing, batlike wings.