Despite abject poverty and social stigmas of his “untouchable” caste, Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia earned a place as a student at the College of Art in New Delhi.
Following his painting of Indira Gandhi, many people wanted him to draw them. One of those was Charlotte Von Schedvin, who was traveling in India.
They soon fell in love and got married. Charlotte, however, had to return home to Sweden. She offered to pay for Pradyumna’s plane ticket, but he had too much pride to accept and promised he would make the money on his own.
After a year, he had still not saved enough.
Selling all of his possessions, he made enough to buy a bicycle. He then cycled for four months and three weeks, covering 4,000 miles across Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Germany, Austria, and Denmark to get to Sweden.
They are still happily married 40 years later, and live in Sweden with their two children. Pradyumna became a well-known artist and is a cultural ambassador.
When asked about his arduous journey, his reply was, “I did what I had to, I had no money but I had to meet her. I was cycling for love, but never loved cycling. It’s simple.”