15-09-2017 10:30 AM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
An Indian artist cycled all the way to Europe to meet his love
P. K. Mahanandia, a young lad from Odisha nurtured a keen interest to study art but faced with financial difficulties, he had to quit the art school. Later, he was fortunate to get admission in the Government College of Art and Crafts Khallikote, Odisha. His quest for art also led him to study at the College of Art, Delhi. Here, he shot to fame when he drew the portrait of Indira Gandhi.
With the permission from authorities, he sat under the holy fountain at Connaught Place to draw portraits. Faces fascinated him. He felt that in every face there are a million different faces and as many expressions. He wanted to penetrate this mystery through art which in turn would reveal the true nature of man.
On a winter evening, he met Charlotte Von Schedvin, a Swedish student in London who travelled all the way to India in a van in 22 days. She spotted Mr Mahanandia who had earned a reputation as a sketch artist. She learnt that he could make a portrait in ten minutes and decided to give it a try. Soon they fell in love and eventually married after seeking blessings from Mr Mahanandia’s parents.
It was time for Ms Charlotte to return to Sweden. She left after making Mr Mahanadia promise that he would come to Sweden. They corresponded through letters for some time. Then one day, unable to afford a plane ticket, Mr Mahanandia decided to meet his love by travelling all the way to Sweden on his second-hand bicycle.
Cycling for around 70 km every day, he traversed Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey to reach Europe in 4 months and three weeks. His legs hurt, but the excitement of meeting Ms Charlotte kept him going. After several cultural shocks and difficulty to impress Charlotte’s parents, the two finally got officially married in Sweden. It's been forty years now and Mahanandia lives with Charlotte and their two children in Sweden.
Mr Mahanandia is a well-known artist in Sweden and is working as an Adviser, Art and Culture, under the Swedish Government. His paintings have been exhibited in major cities of the world and have found places in the prestigious UNICEF greeting cards.
The Utkal University of Culture (UUC) in Odisha conferred on him an honorary doctorate degree (Degree of Honoris Causa). He was also designated as the Oriya Cultural ambassador to Sweden by the Government of Odisha.
At a time when violence and discrimination prevail in our society over caste and religion, this tale of love so powerful, that it transcends all boundaries, restores faith in the goodness of humanity.