It has all the makings of a Bollywood movie: a man from the lowly “untouchable” caste falls in love with a princess. But this is real – and a story that reaches romantic heights higher than any Valentine tale, when he rides a bicycle 4,000 miles to be with her.
PK Mahanandia was born into an Indian caste system that placed him “lower than even cows and dogs.” But he worked his way into college and by his early twenties, was a noted, but poor, portrait artist.
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Charlotte Von Schedvin, descended from Swedish royalty and a student in London in 1975, sought him out in Delhi to paint her portrait.
Two years later and barely making ends meet, Mahanandia decided it was time to forget his pride and go — even if he didn’t have the money to pay for the trip.
He did have enough for a second-hand bicycle, though.
“I never loved biking, but I bicycled for love,” he told CNN.
The young man pedaled across deserts in Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, hitching rides when he could and traveling as much as 40 to 45 miles a day.
He crossed Turkey and parts of Eastern Europe before pushing north to Sweden — traveling through a total of 10 countries, to be reunited with the love of his life.
The trip took four months and three weeks–PK and Charlotte’s life together since then has lasted 40 years.
They have two grown children (above) and PK is an adviser to the Swedish government on art, while Charlotte has had a long career of teaching music.
He was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work.
PK’s paintings have been exhibited in major cities around the world, but none have been as important as his painting of a Swedish student that sent him on a lifelong journey — that began with a 4,000 mile bike ride.
Pedal This Love Story To Your Friends…