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Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love

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Pradyumna Kumar, known as PK, was born into a poor, untouchable family in a small village in eastern India. All his life he has kept a palm leaf bearing an astrologer’s prophecy: “You will marry a girl who is not from the village, not from the district, not even from our country; she will be musical, own a jungle and be born under the sign of the ox.” But not until PK attends art school in New Delhi do his stars begin to align. One evening, while drawing portraits in a park, he meets a young Swedish woman, Lotta von Schendin — and this brief meeting will change the courses of their lives forever.

This is the remarkable true story of how a young Indian man armed with nothing more than a handful of paintbrushes and a secondhand Raleigh bicycle made his way across Asia and Europe in search of the woman he loves.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2013

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Per J. Andersson

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 368 reviews
Profile Image for İntellecta.
198 reviews1,523 followers
January 20, 2022
Eine wirklich Lesenswerte Biopgraphie, die mein Herz tiefst berührt hat. Wer sich auch für die Kultur İndiens interessiert, erfährt durch das Buch viel über die Etnologie und die Hintergrundgeschichte Indiens z.B über das Kastensystem.
Profile Image for Nick Parkinson.
106 reviews27 followers
July 10, 2017
An interesting story about a man who defies his society's expectations and, in the process, does exactly what it says on the tin: cycles to Europe for love. At times, the translation of Andersson's prose can sound preachy and repetitive. The book delves into the caste system as if it wants that to be the main focus though never truly achieves this goal. Clearly, PK's caste is essential to his identity and yet, Andersson sometimes jars us between love story, journey of enlightenment and treatise. Nevertheless, this book opened my eyes to the continual discrimination in a country not far from mine and this, perhaps, is where the true heart of the book lies.
Profile Image for Sina & Ilona Glimmerfee.
1,048 reviews122 followers
September 20, 2015
Mir hat die Geschichte jede Menge Gedankenimpulse gegeben. Haben wir einen freien Willen oder ist alles vorbestimmt?
80 reviews46 followers
May 15, 2017
It's an incredible story this. And it is worth being told. But I wish the narrative was more about the actual journey and the experience of reaching Sweden from India on a cycle. The author devotes probably the last third of the book to this and that too in a really rushed way. A large part of the book is about India, the caste system, the injustice and yes, while all this is relevant and needs to be told, it is a little misleading to the reader based on what the title of the book suggests. It becomes a little monotonous before you reach the actual journey itself which is a letdown.
Profile Image for Marije.
125 reviews9 followers
October 11, 2019
Mooi verhaal, maar ik vond het wel langdradig en had soms moeite mijn aandacht erbij te houden. Leuk is wel de toevoeging van de foto's achterin, zodat je niet vergeet dat het echte mensen zijn waar het verhaal over gaat.
Profile Image for The Books Blender.
689 reviews92 followers
June 23, 2018
“description"/

- Ho ricevuto una copia di questo libro in cambio di un'onesta recensione -

Per i riferimenti a immagini e link-> https://thebooksblender.altervista.or...

Tutto comincia come in un film di Hollywood (o Bollywood, visto dove siamo): in una giungla indiana, in un'umile capanna, lo stesso giorno della nascita del profeta dei cristiani, un bimbo appena nato sta per ricevere la sua profezia personale dall'astrologo del villaggio.

La profezia sostiene che il futuro di questo bambino sarà quello di sposare una donna di un'altra tribù, di un altro villaggio, provincia, stato, nazione. La donna in questione sarà una creatura musicale, del segno del Toro e possiederà una giungla.

Prima un arcobaleno spunta sopra la testa del bambino; qualche settimana dopo un cobra, animale sacro, gli si infila nella cesta dove dorme senza ferirlo. Insomma... il destino di questo bambino pare essere già tracciato e sicuramente splendente.

Ma gli anni passano; la donna delle profezia non si vede da nessuna parte e intanto Jagat Ananda Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia, per gli amici Pikej (o PK), deve barcamenarsi in un'India piena di pregiudizi e ingiustizie.

Perché lui è un fuori casta: va bene se i compagni di classe lo isolano e corrono a lavarsi se per errore entrano in contatto con lui; va bene che lo battano con il bastone; va bene che i fondi stanziati per la sua borsa di studio all'università vengano intascati da un burocrate corrotto.

description

La storia di Pikej parte davvero con le migliori premesse: una profezia che promette una storia d'amore eccezionale, un'India magica e piena di segreti, una vita fatta di ingiustizie e prevaricazioni dalle quali non si aspetta altro che il protagonista (determinato e quasi-incrollabile) riesca a riscattarsi.

A tutto questo si aggiunga anche che il nostro non è un semplice "protagonista" di un libro, ma è una persona in carne e ossa (con la sua personale pagina Facebook, per la cronaca).

E la sua storia vale davvero la pena di essere raccontata, perché non c'è solo il viaggio Nuova Delhi-Borås in bicicletta (una buona parte almeno): c'è anche la conflittualità della società indiana; l'incentivazione dell'ingiustizia sociale; ci sono le difficoltà (economiche, spirituali e quelle "terrene" come lo "scontato" bisogno di mangiare); c'è l'amore per l'arte e il disegno e la pittura; c'è lo scontro - brusco, cattivo - con la realtà che non sempre permette di realizzare i propri sogni; c'è l'incontro con personalità di spicco (per es. Indira Gandhi).

E alla storia di Pikej ci si affeziona per tutto questo: perché è vera.

description

Ma il guaio - temo - sia avvenuto in fase di realizzazione. La vicenda, così come raccontata da Per J Andersson, assume più i contorni di un distaccato rapporto giornalistico, fatto per dovere e non molto sentito dal narratore.

Si parte con un resoconto dell'infanzia dei due protagonisti (con un rapporto 10 a 1 in favore in Pikej; a Charlotte - Lotta - si dedica solo qualche rapida pagina) per proseguire con l'età adulta.

Pikej affronta tutte le problematiche che ho indicato poco sopra (anche se con rigoroso riscatto professionale da parte del narratore che non riesce a coinvolgere il lettore); Lotta semplicemente procede con la sua vita senza troppi scossoni da perfetta ragazza bianca (o, comunque, il narratore non si impegna molto a rendere interessante la vita della bionda svedese, che sembra più un incostante fantasma che prende consistenza proprio prima dell'incontro con Pikej per poi aleggiare misterioso fino a quando lui non arriva in Svezia).

Poi ecco il giorno dell'incontro tra i due: il clou del libro, no?

No... La storia d’amore è abbozzata molto approssimativamente, stropicciata in poche righe e mal approfondita come se il lettore si dovesse accontentare di un semplice "si sono visti e si sono piaciuti... e poi c'è la profezia, ricordi?", quando invece dietro ci sarà stato un mondo dietro: il diverso approccio alla vita, la differente educazione, le società di provenienza culturalmente e socialmente diverse, la diversa quotidianità dalle piccole alle grandi cose e moltissimo altro.

La parte finale, scritta in prima persona, ha un sapore diverso rispetto al resto del libro: più intimo e  un po' più "sentita". Ma si tratta di poche pagine finali che non riescono a recuperare l'intero romanzo.

Ciò, infatti, non scrolla via la sensazione di apatico distacco che permea un po' tutto il romanzo.

Peccato perché poteva rivelarsi davvero un bellissimo libro.

description

Ah... p.s.:  qualcuno dia il mio numero all'astronomo, perché potrebbe essere davvero utile! XD
Profile Image for Marie.
391 reviews2 followers
November 28, 2017
Lots of problems with this book. First of all, the journey indicated in the title did not begin until halfway into the book. Also, the bike ride began in India and ended in Iran. The rest of the journey was by car, bus and train.

The writing was very stilted at times-possibly due to poor translation. And, frankly, the main character, PK, was not particularly interesting, at least in the way he was portrayed in the book. I have a feeling that he is much more engaging in person.
Profile Image for Jasbr.
851 reviews9 followers
May 3, 2016
Jetzt mal ehrlich: Der Titel erschlägt einen fast, oder? Ich hätte nie gedacht, dass so lange Buchtitel Sinn machen, aber lasst euch gesagt sein, der Titel ist Programm: Ein Inder fährt mit dem Fahrrad einmal um die halbe Welt, um seine große Liebe Lotta in Schweden wiederzufinden. Und es klingt nicht nur romantisch, es ist auch noch eine wahre Geschichte - was das ganze noch schöner macht.

Beginnen tut die Geschichte allerdings ganz am Anfang, nämlich bei der Geburt von Pikay, dem Inder. Gut die erste Hälfte des Buches dreht sich um sein Leben, wie er aufwächst, mit welchen Problemen er zu kämpfen hat, da er ein "Unberührbarer" ist und so weiter. Hier bekommt der Leser einen tollen Einblick in das indische Leben - und wie das Kastensystem immer noch vorherrschend ist, zumindest in den Köpfen der Menschen. Das war wirklich interessant und hat auch Hindernisse aufgezeigt.
Pikay steht im ganzen Buch im Mittelpunkt, auch nachdem er Lotta getroffen und sich verliebt hat. Sein Leben ist wirklich bemerkenswert - was er alles geschafft hat, da kann man nur den Hut vor ziehen! Aber inhaltlich möchte ich jetzt nicht zu viel verraten.
Das Buch ist super romantisch, ohne zu kitschig zu werden. Denn es werden auch Ängste und Zweifel angesprochen. Dass es eine wahre Geschichte ist, ist das Sahnehäubchen - und am Ende des Buches gibt es tolle Bilder, die das Glück der beiden belegen :)
Der Schreibstil ist sehr angenehm zu lesen. Es ist flüssig geschrieben, die Kapitel haben eine angenehme Länge. Außerdem wechseln sich lustige und nachdenkliche Teile ab, sodass es sehr abwechslungsreich ist. Ich konnte das Buch jedenfalls nicht mehr aus der Hand legen und habe es an zwei Abenden durchgelesen.
Wer also Lust auf eine wunderschöne Geschichte hat, sollte hier zugreifen!
Profile Image for My BookSwap Club.
30 reviews9 followers
February 14, 2017
I requested this book because from the title i thought this might be "AN AMAZING" love story, but was utterly disappointed. This book is anything, but a love story.

It is well written, and description of India/Kerala can you help imagine,,,,however i am not in agreement with how "Untouchable" situation is described in this book.

Main characters are PK, and Lotta,...but we get to read about PK, Lotta is like a ghost - a girl PK falls in love with and yet we don't know why.

PK talks about "everything happens for a reason and believes in his destiny" about marrying a girl from abroad, and yet he can't stop grieving his personal circumstances..I felt that personal challenge kind of gave him an opportunity to take a different path. It is very one sided story.

I admire his determination, and yet the way he talks about "Brahmin" In my opinion it is purely based on his limited experience. In one chapter he talks about, how he did not mind and actually preferred British Raj because they didn't discriminate and yet we all know that British had a slogan "no dogs and Indian allowed in some places".

In the last chapter (i think) he talks about a Brahmin (from his own village) had replaced god's pictures with his and his wife picture....really???? It just proves that the point that the poor treatment about untouchable was down to lack or no education and not so much about the caste system. There are missing part about how love developed, and actually how life evolved between PK & Lotta developed once PK reached Sweden...

Thanks Netgalley for this book.

Profile Image for Sven.
386 reviews51 followers
November 22, 2021
Per J Andersson is een journalist en medeoprichter van Vagabond, het bekendste reismagazine van Zweden. Elk jaar vertoeft hij wel een periode in India.

Het boek Het wonderlijke verhaal van de man die van India naar zweden fietste voor de liefde past dus perfect in Andersson zijn interesse gebied. Aangezien hij Zweed is werd het boek vertaalt door Daniëlle Stensen zodat wij er ook van kunnen genieten in het Nederlands.

Het boek herbergt het waargebeurde verhaal van Pk en Lotta.
PK is een straat artiest die portretten van mensen maakt om de kost te verdienen. Pk heeft weinig bezittingen en koestert een profetie die hij kreeg bij zijn geboorte. Hij zou trouwen met een meisje dat niet uit zijn dorp kwam, zelfs niet uit zijn land. Ze zou muzikaal zijn en een jungle bezitten. En het sterrenbeeld stier hebben. Als op een koude winteravond een blonde jonge vrouw vraagt om haar portret te schilderen hebben ze direct een connectie. Pk weet dat zij de ware is. Eens ze naar Zweden vertrekt en Pk geen andere opties ziet om haar achterna te reizen koopt hij zich een fiets en besluit de oversteek te wagen naar Zweden. Naar de liefde voor zijn leven. Een reis vol tegenslagen, vriendschap en ontberingen.

Het verhaal start traag op. Er zijn niet veel gebeurtenissen omdat de auteur er goed zijn best doet om Pk zijn achtergrond te schetsen. De werking van het kastesysteem komt uitgebreid aan bod. Dit is wel interessant maar vertraagt wat de leesflow.

Het reisverhaal op zich verdwijnt tijdens het verhaal toch wat naar de achtergrond. Wat echt op de voorgrond treed is de uitwerking van Pk zijn karakter. Qua uitwerking is dit in het verhaal echt tot op de details af. Eens het boek uit is ken je Pk van binnen en buiten en kan je niet anders dan hem lief hebben. Soms wat naïef maar een hart van goud.

Wat een gemis kan zijn is dat de omschrijvingen van de landen en gebieden die hij doorkruist niet overdreven beschreven worden. Dit was eigenlijk de motivator om dit boek te gaan lezen dus bleven we wat op onze honger zitten.

Iets wat mogelijks persoonlijk zal zijn voor elke lezer is dat dit boek in de derde persoon geschreven werd en dat de vraag rijst wat er zou veranderen in het lezen moest de ik-vorm gebruikt worden. Meer het verhaal beleven vanaf PK zijn schouder.

Het boek sluit af met een dankwoord van Pk maar wat vooral interessant is zijn de foto’s. Pk en Lotta delen op het einde van dit boek verschillende foto’s uit hun persoonlijke albums. Een reminder dat dit verhaal waargebeurd is.

Conclusie
Een traag startend verhaal maar met een karakter uitwerking om u tegen te zeggen. Maar wat te weinig omgevingsbeschrijvingen om aan te voelen als een echt reisverhaal. Niet tegenstaande dat het wel een leuk verhaal blijft om te lezen.

Engels

Per J Andersson is a journalist and co-founder of Vagabond, Sweden's most famous travel magazine. Every year he spends a period in India.
The book The wonderful story of the man who cycled from India to Sweden for love fits perfectly into Andersson's field of interest. Since he is Swede, the book was translated by Daniëlle Stensen so that we can enjoy it in Dutch as well.
The book tells the true story of Pk and Lotta.
PK is a street artist who takes portraits of people to earn a living. Pk has few possessions and cherishes a prophecy given to him at birth. He would marry a girl who was not from his village, not even from his country. She would be musical and possess a jungle. And have the zodiac sign Taurus. When on a cold winter evening a blond young woman asks to paint her portrait, they immediately have a connection. Pk knows she's the one. Once she leaves for Sweden and Pk sees no other options to follow her, he buys himself a bicycle and decides to cross the road to Sweden. To the love of his life. A journey full of setbacks, friendship and hardship.
The story starts off slow. There are not many events because the author does his best to outline Pk's background. The functioning of the caste system is discussed in detail. This is interesting but slows the reading flow somewhat.
The travel story itself disappears somewhat into the background during the story. What really comes to the fore is the elaboration of Pk's character. In terms of elaboration, this is really down to the last detail in the story. Once the book is out you know Pk inside and out and you can't help but love him. Sometimes a bit naive but a heart of gold.
What may be a lack is that the descriptions of the countries and areas he traverses are not exaggerated. This was actually the motivator to start reading this book, so we were left feeling a bit hungry.
Something that may be personal to each reader is that this book was written in the third person and the question arises as to what would change in reading if the I-form was used. Experience the story more from PK's shoulder.
The book closes with a word of thanks from Pk, but what is especially interesting are the photos. Pk and Lotta share several photos from their personal albums at the end of this book. A reminder that this story is true.
Conclusion
A slow-starting story but with a character development to die for. But not enough descriptions of the surroundings to feel like a real travel story. Notwithstanding, it is still a fun story to read.
Profile Image for Pati :).
6 reviews
July 5, 2022
Really enjoyed this book a lot! The story, the philosophies, and the caste critiques behind it make it a very enganging novel that you don’t want to put down!
Really recommend it! PK is a very inspiring figure and we can all learn from how he lived his life and how much he has accomolished to make the world a better place!
Profile Image for Anca Lumei.
55 reviews8 followers
January 13, 2018
It feels there are 2 books here: one is the made-for-Bollywood love story with the customary happy ending, the other is a memoir of trying to find acceptance.

The love story has all the right elements to make it into a movie: despite poverty, caste discrimination and corruption, PK earns an education, admittance to an art school in New Delhi and becomes a popular street artist. Then destiny brings him together with Lotta and they spend a short time getting to know each other while visiting sights and his family. Then circumstances bring them apart again and PK starts on his journey to Europe with just a bike and almost no money. After many adventures on the road, the two are reunited, get married and live a comfortable middle-class life.

The part about finding acceptance is less clear cut, and has no happily ever after ending. Caste discrimination was and still is a problem. Europeans rejecting poor migrants, or frowning on multicultural/interracial marriages still seems to be a thing.

The most surreal part of this book was reading about foreigners on road trips from Europe to India via Iran and Afghanistan. All this happening in the late 70s/early 80s. It’s hard to imagine such a trip nowadays, after the whole area was swept by wars and religious extremism.

(Not so) fun fact: An Indian girl, smart and talented enough to get into art school, can't get married to the engineering student of her parents' choosing because his family asks for an exorbitant 50k rupees as dowry. For comparison, a plane ticket to Sweden would cost 40k rupees, and PK, as a popular street artist living modestly, has only 4k rupees in savings after, probably, a year or 2 of work.
Profile Image for Miriam.
258 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2018
A really nice book. Even though the voyage doesn't start until about three quarters of the book are already over. Or maybe because of that. It offers a good overview and insight into life in India as an 'Untouchable'. Even though it is set in the 1970s and earlier, India today still has a lot of remnants from that time, the dust, the people, the railway, the pavement dwellers, the poverty and also the kindness.
The voyage it describes also is a great reminder of how (world) politics shapes and changes whole countries. The protagonist travels through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan... The Hippie-Trail is alive and kicking in the 1970s, but today, it would mean a totally different trip.
I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,151 reviews191 followers
Read
December 30, 2017
Not only is there an amazing story here but you will find that PK (Jagat Ananda Pradymna Kumar Mahanandia) is truly amazing himself. PK's early life, mired in poverty, born an untouchable, should have predicted what was to come for him and you could say, it did. He was born under a rainbow and an astrologer scratched on a palm leaf that he would marry a girl, far, far away. Here are a few things that PK believed in, that got him from destitution, through hardship, and finally, happiness: laughter; the road must be tough; repay kindness. You will find his journey inspiring. -Anna Q.L.
Profile Image for Savannah Byers.
36 reviews2 followers
May 15, 2019
I ate this book up. I have a feeling that this is one of the most important pieces of literature I will ever encounter. It was completely unexpected, beautifully written and, above all, a true story. This story touched my heart, and I'm sure it will touch yours as well.
Profile Image for wortkunstzauberei.
177 reviews2 followers
June 17, 2020
„Sieh dich um, hier siehst du verkörperte Liebe. Leute wie du und ich können den Hass in der Welt beenden. Wir sind eine Armee von Desertierten. Wir haben Blumen in den Gewehrläufen.“

„Vom Inder, der mit dem Fahrrad bis nach Schweden fuhr, um dort seine große Liebe wiederzufinden“ beruht auf einer wahren Geschichte und ist einfach nur herzerweichend. In der Geschichte geht es um den Inder Jagat Ananda Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia, kurz, Pikay.
Er ist im Dschungel Indiens geboren und zählt somit zu der Fraktion der Kastenlosen – den Unberührbaren. Man wird ziemlich schnell in das Kastensystem Indiens eingeführt und merkt, dass die Menschen, die keiner Kaste angehören, anders behandelt werden. Pikay erzählt von seiner Kindheit und seiner Schulzeit, die er nicht mit seinen Klassenkameraden in einem Zimmer verbringen durfte, da er keiner Kaste angehörte. Denn die Diskriminierung der Unberührbaren in Indien ist gleichzustellen mit dem Rassismus gegen Schwarze in den USA. Dieser Faden zieht sich durch das gesamte Buch und beschränkt Pikay im Leben und in der Liebe.
„Ich bin kastenlos geboren. Ich habe kein Recht auf gar nichts. Ich habe nicht das Recht, in Indien Liebe zu erfahren“, sind Worte von Pikay, die er in seiner Wohnung mit Kohle an die Wand geschrieben hat.

Das ganze Buch erzählt von seiner Lebensgeschichte als Kastenloser. Wie er von seinem Dorf nach Neu-Delih zieht, um ein Kunststudium zu beginnen. Wie er obdachlos wird und hungernd unter einer Brücke schlafen muss und wie er sich nach unzähligen Selbstmordversuchen wieder findet und sich bis ganz an die Spitze kämpft.
In seinem chaotischen Leben lernt er auch die Schwedin Lotta kennen, die ihm bei ihrem Besuch in Indien, sofort den Kopf verdreht. Als sie anreist, beschließt er ihr zu folgen und fährt mit einem Fahrrad von Indien bis Schweden, und erfährt auch auf seinem Weg dorthin eine Menge Abweisungen.

Ab und an hatte das Buch einige Längen, weshalb ich nicht die gesamten 5 Sterne geben konnte. Doch alles in einem war es eine wunderschöne, inspirierende Geschichte von der wahren Liebe. Außerdem kommt einem ganz oft die Frage auf, wie es sich wohl anfühlt, wenn man ohne freien Willen geboren wird. Kastenlosen in Indien ist es vorbestimmt, dass sie weniger wert sind als Inder, die einer Kaste angehören. Die Erkenntnis fand ich zwar sehr erschreckend, doch es war unglaublich spannend mehr darüber zu erfahren!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for ✨R   y   e✨.
228 reviews36 followers
July 22, 2020
Omggggggg! This was such an eye opener and a beautiful story about love and dedication.

" 'He will marry a girl from far, far away, from outside the village, the district, the province, the state and even the country' it began.

'You needn't go looking for her, she will come to you'......

'His future wife will be musical, own a jungle and be born under the sign of Taurus.'

PK traveled pretty much the whole world on a bike to find the love of his life. They say, "Love makes you crazy," and this TRUE story proves so.

(PK and Lotta are real people, and as are all the events from page one to the 281th page!!!)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
203 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2021
Supergaaf boek! De titel klinkt als een flauw boek maar het is erg de moeite waard!
Profile Image for Ires Van Veen.
9 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2021
Amazing book! It displays both the ups and downs of the main character beautifully. It is written such that it is very easy to read while it is still succeeds in expressing emotions and observations very well. Besides the feelgood story, it is a profound display of the caste system in India from the eyes of a low caste man/boy which gives the book a deeper, political layer. I give this book 5 stars!
Profile Image for Alison.
2,377 reviews36 followers
May 14, 2017
This was a very informative and interesting read. I really enjoyed the story, which is a true one. It is about a young Indian boy Pradyumna Kumar, known as PK, who was born into a poor, untouchable family in a small village in eastern India. An astrologer's prophecy stated that, he PK would marry a girl who is not from the village, not from the district, not even from our country; she will be musical, own a jungle and be born under the sign of the ox. He always had this information in the back of his mind.
PK grew up with a lot of prejudice surrounding him and his family because of their caste (untouchables, also called Dalit, who are a member of the lowest social class in India ) It was amazing to learn about all of the different caste systems and all of the sub divisions of them at well. PK, grew up with this prejudice and when young did not really understand why people treated him and his family the way they did. This did not stop PK from going forth in his life and making something of himself. He found he was good at art and wanted to study that rather than what his father would have chosen for him. He goes to a couple of different schools but eventually settles into an art school in New Delhi and here his life begins to turn around. When not in school, he draws peoples portrait in a local park, where he got quite a reputation and even did portraits for well known people. One day he met a Swedish woman named Lotta, who was traveling around India with some friends, and after spending time with her and remembering his prophecy, he knew she was the one he was to end up with. We don't really get to connect with her or her story, like we do with PK, so for me I did not really feel that love, although I know it is there.
Lotta, ends up having to go back to Sweden and the two make plans to reunite, but PK not having the money to just fly to Sweden, decides that he must get there any way that he can, saving up money from his portraits and doing more of them en route, PK buys an old bicycle and decides to ride all of the way to Sweden to reunite with his love. He follows, (The hippie trail, which is the name given to the overland journey taken by members of the hippie subculture and others from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s between Europe and South Asia, mainly Pakistan, India and Nepal ) He had many hippy friends that he had met when he did his art in the park, and he knew this route would take him in the direction he needed.
His journey to be reunited with his love has many adventures and once there a life of learning how to adapt, and how to assimilate into a new culture.
This book was well written and was a great read, I would like to thank:
NetGalley and Oneworld Publications for an advanced reader copy .
Profile Image for Kristin.
127 reviews4 followers
June 1, 2021
Eine sehr inspirierende Geschichte! Ich dachte natürlich, in dem Buch geht es hauptsächlich um Pikays Reise mit dem Fahrrad nach Schweden. Tatsächlich erzählt die erste Hälfte des Buches aber Pikays Lebensgeschichte. Sein Leben als Unberührbarer in Indien. Ein Leben voller (wie er so schön sagt) "Sinnlosigkeiten". Ablehnung, Mobbing, Demütigungen, Hass ... all das bestimmt seinen Alltag. Und auch die Tatsache, dass es ihm als Unberührbarer wohl nie möglich sein wird, die Frau zu heiraten, die er wirklich liebt.

Diese Vorgeschichte fand ich sehr wichtig, um zu verstehen, wie ein Inder überhaupt auf die Idee kommt, mit seinem Fahrrad bis nach Schweden zu fahren, um da seine große Liebe wiederzufinden. Und ohne zu viel zu spoilern, kann ich nur sagen, dass die Geschichte einfach herzerwärmend ist und zeigt, dass jeder seinen Platz irgendwo in der Welt hat und das auch die schlechten Dinge im Leben für irgendwas gut sind.
Profile Image for Magda Sz.
95 reviews2 followers
April 5, 2019
In fact, it should be 2/5, but...

First off, the English title is completely misleading - the cycling lasts for about 30 pages and there’s nothing amazing about it (as such). Secondly, the language - style and storytelling- is stiff, if not infantile at times. I think this is because this book doesn’t know what it wants to be - a bildungsroman? A biography? A reportage? I would prefer the latter form. And I must add that the parts where PK is directly quoted are like a breath of fresh air.

As for the ‘but’... I decided to give it 3/5 because PK’s experience and message are in fact very powerful. It is therefore even sadder to see the above-mentioned problems spoiling the reception of this, in fact, rather wonderful story.
Profile Image for Susan Cairney.
103 reviews2 followers
July 13, 2018
A most wonderfully written story I could have read forever. I was sorry it had to end. I loved every character and every single description of things...and I learned a little along the way. Just fabulous - wish I could give it 100 stars.
44 reviews
August 31, 2018
Amazing story but disappointing narrative, less time spent on the actual journey...leading to misleading title.
Profile Image for Theodor Westin.
28 reviews
October 19, 2020
Hur egentligen är det att vara kastlös i Indien? I “New Delhi - Borås” får vi ta del av Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandias (P. K.) livsresa genom att få följa med honom på hans beslut, möten och livsöden.

Från att vid tidig ålder fått sitt liv förutbestämt genom en profetia av byn betydelsefulla och högt uppsatta, vilket boken t.o.m. inleder med, till hans upprepade misslyckade självmordsförsök, har P.K. känt att hans liv skulle ha en större betydelse. Genom stora motgångar genom sin utsatthet som oberörbar har motivationen som följd ökat för att kämpa hårdare i sitt liv. Att satsa på konsten då han till slut fann en belönande sysselsättning, eller när han fann Lotta och tillsammans kärleken, och kämpade för att nå henne i Sverige.

Boken är skriven av författaren, journalist och Indien-experten Per J Andersson som man kan ana träffat P.K. någon gång i Sverige eller Indien då han besökt landet ett flertal gånger i 30 år. Efter man läst klart boken förstår man också varför Per skrivit om denna enastående man och hans livsäventyr. Det är en bok som känns som en historisk självbiografi, dock i ett objektivt, utomstående, allvetande, samt delvis tidsomkastande och opartiska vis.

Utifrån de beskrivningar av P.Ks inre tankesätt får man en tydlig bild av att denna person är oerhört genuin och god. Utifrån de änglar han själv stött på har han själv formats till att bli en, och utifrån de demoner han stött på har han undvikit att bli en sådan. Folks reaktioner och respekt världen över har han vunnit med mycket glädje och skratt. Detta är tydliga tecken på hans fina karaktär som har förmågan att få alla, t.o.m. hans fiender att älska honom till slut.

Lotta, en äventyrlig ung svensk kvinna. Så pass öppensinnad och avvikande från normen hos en stereotyp i hennes beskrivning, att hon ändå lyckades ta sig till Indien på tiden då det på den tiden var så mycket svårare. Att hon lyckades övervinna nästintill livsfarliga missöden och till slut finna en fin men kärleksfull vänskap i Indien är ett mirakel.

P.K. går från att vilja ta sitt eget liv ett flertal gånger, genomlida svält och orättvisa. Genom att finna sin väg i livet genom sin talang i konsten lyckas han träffa personer han aldrig skulle hade drömt om att få träffat. Premiärministrar, kosmonauter och hippies. Dessa möten öppnar fler dörrar som till slut leder till att hans resa mot Lottas kärlek underlättas från en omöjlighet till en möjlighet. Återigen, att frustrationen från att vara oberörbar gav honom kraft att kämpa hårdare med ökad motivation för att nå sitt mål att komma fram till Sverige. Varför ska man ge upp när man kommit så långt?

Det dröjer ett tag innan man faktiskt får ett tydligt årtal, men genom att pussla ihop viss information som beskrivs i boken kan man räkna ihop en känsla av att det utspelar sig någon gång mellan 60 och 70-talet. Vilka geopolitiska händelser? Vilken teknologi? Vilka ledare? För att inte nämna fotografierna i baksidan av boken.

Främst utspelar sig detta äventyr i Indien, från det ögonblick han föddes i byn vid Orissas kuster och djunglar han växt upp i, i New Delhi där han studerade och tjänade pengar som porträttmålare bland illaluktande diken med trögflytande vätska, slummar och fattigdom. Ett totalt myller av liv på städernas gator och torg med skrik, trafikljud, aktivitet och dofter från alla håll och kanter. Till slut även de flertal länder som han åker igenom på väg till Sverige, där han slutligen hamnar och befinner sig än idag.

Man möter en tydligt uppmålad bild av ett indiskt samhälle med ett kastsystem, men som minskar i betydelse när han kommer till New Dehli där det blir lite mer osynligt i hans vardag. Genom hans resa i Mellanöstern möter han skillnaderna mellan kulturerna, dels hatet mellan Pakistanier och Indier, kvinnoförtryck i Afghanistan, gästvänligheten i Iran, Turkiet och kylan i Tyskland och Sverige.

Stämningen genom hela berättelsen, trots alla motgångar, var mycket ljus ändå. För att komma så långt som han gjorde krävs det en hel del optimism som P.K. helt klart är fylld av. Det enkla, lättförståeliga och vardagliga språket möjliggör att en bredare publik kan ta del av P.K.s budskap om kärlek och perspektiv. En helt klart passade och lockande titel som tydligt beskriver vad man ger sig in på när man läser boken “New Delhi - Borås” på svenska, eller min favorit: “Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love”.

För denna bok passar egentligen till alla. För personer som söker inspiration och perspektiv. Är man öppen för att se hur andra länder fungerar? Som boken själv beskrev är Europa till större utsträckning mer eller mindre fördomsfullt (speciellt på den tiden) och regelstyrt, så om man själv är det, kan detta vara en nyttig berättelse att läsa eller lyssna på för att minska ens egna fördomar eller snava perspektiv.

Jag gillade verkligen denna bok. Berättelsen om denna man vidgade mitt perspektiv och gav mig större förståelse över den värld han har sitt ursprung ifrån. Jag tyckte Per gjorde ett bra jobb med att fånga de viktigaste bitarna på ett förståeligt vis. Om något tycker jag att han borde fördjupat sig ännu mer inom vissa områden, som Lottas perspektiv som ibland slängdes in som korta kapitel eller hur deras kärlek blomstrade i New Delhi och alla de platser han körde förbi på väg till Sverige. Denna bok hade mycket lätt kunnat bli fyra gånger så lång och jag hade fortfarande velat läsa den!

Särskilt kul är det alltid när Svenska perspektiv kritiseras genom något så kontrastfullt som det indiska! Utifrån P.Ks perspektiv som man följt med sedan tidig uppväxt förstår man också varför och hur han resonerar och tänker kring olika situationer, som när han kritiserar månggifte, slöjbärande eller kastsystemet.

Men nu undrar man:
Hur har indiens kastsystem förändrats jämfört med idag som följd av de politiska beslut som gjordes när P.K. växte upp i Indien?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bookworm.
85 reviews
October 29, 2018
What a journey this book was! Right from the time he was born till he is reunited with his love, this book is nothing short of being amazing and inspiring.

“The Amazing Story of the Man who Cycled from India to Europe for Love” by Per. J. Andersson is a true story of a poor, untouchable man, Mahanandia Pradyumna Kumar. Known as PK, he hails from a small village, Athmallick, in Orissa. Right from the day he was born, the village astrologer predicted that he would “marry a girl from far, far away, from outside the village, the district, the province, the state and even the country.” He also added that she would own a jungle and will be musical and there was no need for PK to go in search for her. She would come to him when the time comes. And, indeed, in another part of the world, a Swedish girl, Lotta, sits watching a black and white documentary on India. Lotta has always been enchanted with anything related to India – the Ganges, the sound of the sitar, the splashing of pilgrims in the river. She was determined to visit India one day.

I thought that this book would just be an account of a poor boy travelling on his cycle to get to his love. But I very quickly realised that it is more of a narration of how and where PK grew up and how much he had to suffer and tolerate being an untouchable. In school, he was treated with scorn by the teachers and students alike. Though I have a rough idea of how untouchables were treated in those days, I have not read many books on their experiences other than Mulk Raj Anand’s “Untouchable”. As a child, when PK heard that he was going to be enrolled in a school, his joy knew no bounds. But all his happiness dissipated when the class teacher asked only him to sit outside the class for lessons. The teacher used to beat the students with his cane when they broke the school rules, “but PK was never whipped because he did not want to soil his cane and thus spread the infection to the others. For PK, he had a special form of punishment; he was made to stand still on the veranda with his eyes closed. He then edged back and began to throw stones, small, sharp rocks that stung as they assailed his skin, and left ugly bruises.” This brought tears to my eyes. It was no wonder then why PK was filled with thoughts of revenge. “And one day, divine justice seemed to play its part. Teacher had fallen asleep at his desk while the students were reading morning prayers out loud. PK could smell the moonshine on his breath and the snoring filled the classroom as Teacher’s mouth gaped ever wider. Then something amazing happened, something that he would never forget. One of the pigeons that liked to sit in the beams above suddenly relieved itself. The poo fell towards Teacher’s lectern, down towards Teacher’s chair and, to the delight of all the children, plopped straight into his mouth. Teacher jumped up, screamed...”

PK is a very talented person and just as the astrologer predicted, he leaves school to focus on the one thing he is really good at - painting. “Faces fascinate me more than anything else. They attract me, vex me, provoke me.” His strongest desire is to paint human tragedy, bringing out the inequality of one being and another. “No matter rich or poor, all are starving for something or other,” he says. One day, as he sits painting near the fountain in Connaught Place Park in central Delhi, he is approached by a girl with long, blonde hair. She had been waiting in the queue of people, all waiting for their portraits to be done. This is just the beginning of their story and the rest is about how PK is determined to see her once she leaves India.

Without doubt, from the title of the book itself, we come to know how this is a tale of perseverance, hope, will power and most of all, fighting against all odds in search of that one true love. If he had enough money, he might have bought a plane ticket. However, he chose to ride a bike all the way from India to Sweden because it was the only option available to him. It was all he could afford. He made a virtue out of necessity. He knew that the journey was always going to be difficult and laborious. But luck favoured him at times and we see how the whole journey was not completely covered solely by his bicycle.

It is amusing to read PK’s views on India, the caste system and arranged marriage, all of which are noteworthy. “Again and again he reminds himself of what he is, where he comes from, and the emotions that have driven him from India. The anger at the priests who threw stones at him and the teacher who refused to let him sit inside the classroom. The bittersweet feeling at the thought of getting his revenge. Frustration at being born untouchable, and therefore worthless. Without that frustration, he would not be where he is now, sitting on a train on his way to Sweden. Frustration is his driving force. The feelings of worthlessness are the ones that are leading him to happiness. Without that sense of inferiority, he would never have become an artist. Exclusion is the engine that pushes him along the road and beyond his imagination.”

The cover of the book is what attracted me to it and the story was more than just interesting. The writing is simple though it could have been better. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be introduced to books and reading. Anyone who is interested can check out the interviews of the couple on Youtube, of how they met and how their love for each other grew.

I would love to write more on this book but I feel that it will only take away its essence. Do get a copy for yourself if you want to read this inspiring tale of love, hope and courage.

And because everyone loves excerpts, here are a few:

“These outdated traditions, polygamy and arranged marriages, they have to be stopped. Love cannot be planned and controlled. Love must be free. In the future, the people of Afghanistan and India must be able to choose for themselves who they will marry. He tells himself that he is the happiest.”

“Ancient prejudices are embedded in people’s minds like layers of bedrock.”

“They are so free, the backpackers. Anything is possible while in their company, everything is open for discussion and everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is so unlike back home in India, where people are constantly trying to work out where you are from and who your parents are. These vagabonds of Chicken Street are becoming his new family. They are his brothers and sisters, friends through thick and thin, not bound by tradition or prejudice.”

“He is reflecting on the person he has become, who he used to be and the person he might turn into once he arrives in Sweden. He pedals to shut out any other thoughts. He is a hybrid. Sometimes he thinks all cultures and beliefs coexist inside him. He is one of India’s oppressed indigenous people, a symbol for the injustices of the caste system, and at the same time a man on his way out into the world. He is a poor village boy and a successful city man. He owns nothing and everything at once...He may be the furthest he has ever been from home, but he feels utterly present. From this distance, so many thousands of miles from the Brahmins, his untouchability means nothing. Everybody loves success. The Brahmins can only treat you badly as long as you stay in your home village, working in a simple job, making no money. Then their talk of ritual purity carries weight. But when you make a name for yourself, a career, suddenly your low caste melts into insignificance. The higher castes bow to you. Oh, the falsehood, the hypocrisy! He may be the furthest he has ever been from home, but he feels utterly present.”

I would love to write more on this book but I feel that it will only take away its essence. Do get a copy for yourself if you want to read this inspiring tale of love, hope and courage.

Rating: 5/5
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