Indian artist PK Mahanandia met Charlotte Von Schedvin first time on a winter evening in Delhi in 1975 when she asked him to draw her a portrait.What eventually followed was an epic bicycle journey from India to Europe all for […]
Indian artist PK Mahanandia met Charlotte Von Schedvin first time on a winter evening in Delhi in 1975 when she asked him to draw her a portrait.
What eventually followed was an epic bicycle journey from India to Europe all for his love.
Ms Von Schedvin was visiting India as a tourist when she spotted Mr Mahanandia in Delhi’s Connaught Place district. He had made a reputation for himself as a sketch artist and enjoyed an honest reputation within the local press.
Intrigued by his claim of “making a portrait in 10 minutes”, she decided to offer it a try. But she wasn’t impressed with the result and decided to return back subsequent day. The next day sadly, proved no better.
In his defence, Mr Mahanandia says he had been preoccupied with a prediction his mother had made several years ago. As a schoolboy growing up during a village within the eastern Indian state of Orissa, he often faced discrimination from upper-caste students because he was a Dalit – considered to be at rock bottom of India’s caste hierarchy.
Whenever he felt sad, his mother would tell him that consistent with his horoscope, he would someday marry a lady “whose zodiac sign would be Taurus, she would come from a distant land, she would be musical and would own a jungle.
So when he met Ms Von Schedvin, he immediately remembered his mother’s predictions and asked her if she owned a jungle. Ms Von Schedvin, whose family comes from Swedish nobility, replied that she did own a forest and added that not only was she “musical” (she liked to play the piano) her zodiac sign was also Taurus.
It was an inner voice that said to me that she was the one.
I still do not know what made me ask her the questions then invite her for tea. i assumed she would complain to the police.” But her reaction clothed to be quite the other .
I thought he was honest and wanted to understand why he had asked me those questions,” Ms Von Schedvin told. After several conversations, she agreed to go to Orissa with him. The first monument she saw there was the famous Konark temple. I became emotional when PK showed me the Konark.
I had this image of the temple stone wheel framed in my student room back in London, but I had no idea where this place actually was. And here i used to be standing ahead of it. The two fell crazy and returned to Delhi after spending a couple of days in his village.
She wore a sari when she met my father for the primary time. I still do not know how she managed. With blessings from my father and family, we got married consistent with tribal tradition,” he said. Ms Von Schedvin had driven to Delhi together with her friends from Sweden along the famous hippie trail – crossing Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan – to succeed in India in 22 days.
She said goodbye to him to start out her return journey, but made him promise that he would follow her to her range in the Swedish textile town of Boras. More than a year passed and therefore the two kept in-tuned through letters. Mr Mahanandia however, didn’t have enough money to shop for a airplane ticket . So, he sold everything he owned, bought a bicycle and followed her along an equivalent hippie trail.
His journey started on 22 January 1977 and he would cycle for around 70km (44 miles) a day. Art came to my rescue. I made portraits of individuals and a few gave me money, while others gave me food and shelter,” he said.
Mr Mahanandia remembers the planet as being very different within the 1970s. as an example , he didn’t need a visa to enter most countries.
Afghanistan was such a special country. it had been calm and delightful . People loved arts. And vast parts of the country weren’t populated, he said.
He said that folks understood Hindi in Afghanistan, but communication became a drag once he entered Iran.
“Again art came to my rescue. i feel love is that the universal language and other people understand that.”
“Those were different days. i feel people had more free time then to entertain a wanderer like me.” But did he ever feel tired? “Yes, fairly often . My legs would hurt. But the thrill of meeting Charlotte and seeing new places kept me going,” he said.
He finally reached Europe on 28 May – via Istanbul and Vienna, then traveled to Gothenburg by train.
After several cultural shocks and difficulties in impressing Ms Von Schedvin’s parents, the 2 finally got officially married in Sweden.
I had no idea about European culture. it had been all new me, but she supported me in every step. She is simply a special person. i’m still crazy even as i used to be in 1975,” he says.
The 64-year-old now lives with Charlotte and their two children in Sweden and continues to figure as an artist.
But he still doesn’t understand “why people think it had been an enormous deal to cycle to Europe”. “I did what I had to, I had no money but I had to satisfy her. i used to be cycling for love, but never loved cycling. It’s simple.”