A broke, “untouchable” art student from India and a woman descended from Swedish nobility fell for each other during a chance meeting in Delhi in 1975. And their seemingly improbable love affair eventually paved the way for him to travel 3,600 kilometers from India to Sweden in 1977, with only $80 in his pocket, a bicycle and a promise of marriage to her upon arrival.
If this doesn’t count as one of the most romantic gestures ever witnessed across the world, I don’t know what does.
CNN reported on the love story of Charlotte Von Schedvin and PK Mahanandia, noting that his mother even predicted early in life that he would marry a white woman. So when they had their second encounter in Delhi, India, here’s what happened:
When she returned, a realization dawned on Mahanandia. Could Von Schedvin be the western woman in his horoscope?
For the first time, that night Mahanandia says he prayed to the elephant god Ganesh. He wanted Von Schedvin to come back so he could ask if she was a Taurus.
“When I saw her at the traffic lights, I got nervous in the stomach. I put on my easel, ‘artist is sick’,” he said.
Then came the questions.
She was a Taurus.
She played the piano.
She owned forests — indeed, Von Schedvin’s ancestors had been given a portion of Swedish woodland after helping the King in the 1700s.
“I became shaky,” said Mahanandia. “I said: ‘It’s decided in the heavens, we are destined to meet each other.’ She was shocked!” …
Trusting her instinct, Von Schedvin followed Mahanandia to meet his father in Odisha, where the couple received tribal blessings.
“I didn’t think, I just followed my heart 100%. There was no logic,” she said.
“When I was with her, I felt taller than the sky,” said Mahanandia. “I was no longer an outcast. It changed my attitude to myself inside.”
After spending a month together in India, the two remained in touch through written letters – and eventually Mahanandia proposed his epic bicycle journey to reunite in Sweden and get married.
His trip would take him from Delhi, India, through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia into Europe. At the time, it was a safe and well-established route known and the “Hippie Trail” and travelers didn’t require visas to pass through, facilitating Mahanandia’s extraordinary feat to bicycle so far for love:
Setting off on two wheels, Mahanandia left Delhi with just $80. But he arrived in Sweden with more than $800 — painting portraits for food and money along the way.
Though some days he cycled up to 70km, the artist admits he got lifts wherever possible — even being gifted a train ticket from Istanbul to Vienna.
“Sometimes you’d get two or three hitchhiking offers and you’d have to choose!” said Mahanandia. “I bicycled for love, but I never loved biking.”
He arrived in Boras on 28 May 1977, over four months after his departure.
The couple have been married for over 40 years, with two children, and continue to pass on the power of love to others, such as through offering cultural scholarships to others of the “untouchable” caste in India.
What do you think?