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The Amazing Story of an Indian Man Who Cycled to Europe for Love

On January 22, 1977, 24-year-old P.K. Mahanandia set out on a four-month bicycle ride from Delhi, India, to Boras, Sweden, to be with the woman he knew was his soulmate. Their amazing love story became the subject of a best-selling book by Swedish author Per J. Andersson.

Mahanandia met Charlotte Von Schedvin in 1975, completely by chance. He was working as a sketch artist in Connaught Place, a shopping and business hub in Delhi, and Ms. Von Schedvin, from Sweden, was visiting India as a tourist. One day, as she was walking around the city, she noticed a curly young man with a sign that read “a portrait in 10 minutes for 10 rupees” and decided to test the claim. She sat down for a portrait, but something made the man nervous, as his hands wouldn’t stop shaking. Disappointed with the result of his drawing but intrigued by the man, she decided to return the next day for a new one, but the result was no better.

The Swedish tourist would later learn that P.K. Mahanandia had very good reason for being nervous. The moment he had laid eyes on her, the artist remembered a prophecy his mother had made when he was only a boy. Mahanandia was a Dalit, the lowest caste in Indian society, and faced discrimination from upper-caste students growing up, so whenever he was said, his mother would tell him that he would someday marry a woman “whose zodiac sign would be Taurus, she would come from a far away land, she would be musical and would own a jungle”. As soon as he saw her, he knew she was the one.

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