P.K. Mahanandia was born on 1949 in an Odia weaver family, in Kandhapada village of Athmallik Sub-division in the district of Dhenkanal, Odisha, India.
He attended the Mahendra High School, Athmallik and then joined Visva-Bharati to study art, despite his selection at the art school, it became impossible to pay the fee and he had to return home. He later joined Government College of Art and Crafts Khallikote, Odisha to study art. To satisfy his quest for art he joined College of Art, Delhi to study Fine Arts in 1971.
While studying in Delhi College of Art, he shot into fame as portraiture by drawing the portrait of Indira Gandhi. He sought permission from the authorities to sit under the holy fountain at Connaught Place and draw portraits. It is here that he met Charlotte. She was a student in London who had driven all the way to India on a van in 22 days went to visit PK, to have her portrait made. The making of that portrait changed their lives as they fell in love with each other.
Charlotte had to return to Sweden and asked Pradyumna to come with her, but he decided that one day he would go on his own. After she left, the two kept in touch through letters.
PK’s love-filled heart had made the promise, but the reality of having no money to fulfill it stared PK in the eyes. But he was not one to give up. He sold all his belongings and bought a second-hand bicycle. Carrying all his paints and brushes along, he did the unthinkable.
PK spent several years trying to earn enough for the trip, but couldn’t manage. Three years later, he simply decided to sell all his belongings, buy a bicycle, and pedal his way across to the Far West.
Mahanandia vowed to marry the woman he loved, at any cost. The talented painter sold everything he owned to buy a pushbike, and with just $80 in his pocket set off on his epic journey.
His journey started on 22 January 1977 and he would cycle for around 70km (44 miles) every day. While on his journey he made portraits of people. For this some gave him money, while others gave him food and shelter.
He finally reached Europe on 28 May – via Istanbul and Vienna, and then travelled to Gothenburg by train.
After several cultural shocks and difficulties in impressing Ms Von Schedvin’s parents, the two finally got officially married in Sweden.
Though some friends thought the “holiday romance” wouldn’t last, the couple have been together in Sweden for 40 years. They have two children, Sid and Emelie.
Source: Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Scoopwhoop, Indian Express