- Last seen: Wednesday, 24 August 2005
- Year of birth: 1984
- Height: 170 cm
- Build: Slim
- Eyes: Brown
- Hair: Brown
- Gender: Male
Ryan Anthony CHAMBERS
Ryan Chambers, front, just days before he disappeared, with his friend John Booker, near Rishikesh.
Ryan Chambers went missing in Rishikesh, India on 24 August 2005. He
was last seen leaving an ashram called "Sri Ved Niketan", located at
Rishikesh (City) in Northern India wearing only his shorts. When
Ryan left the Ashram, he was not carrying any identification, wallet
or mobile phone.
If you have information that may assist police to locate Ryan please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Follow the links for further information on
the disappearance and ensuing search for Ryan:
Facebook - Ryan Chambers - Missing in India
Audio interview link - http://blogs.abc.net.au/sa/2012/09/ryan-chambers-missing-in-the-land-of-the-gods.html
Ryan's website - http://www.ryanchambers.in/
Ryan Chambers, born in 1984, has been missing in India since August 2005.
There have been a few unconfirmed sightings of Ryan but as yet his whereabouts are unknown. The following account is a brief summary from the website Ryan's family started for him, please visit it to learn in much more detail about Ryan's story.
his friend, John Booker flew out of
Ryan and John arrived in Rishikesh about 20 August 2005. On the evening of 23 August 2005 Ryan rang home to Australia and said he was was ready to come home as he had seen everything he wanted. John offered to help him book flights at the travel agency but it seems Ryan had changed his mind by then. He was restless that night and early the next morning he left the Ashram when the security gate was opened. He was wearing only shorts. Ryan left his belongings, cash, phone, passport and no one has heard from him since.
If you have any information at all about Ryan's whereabouts please contact +61419725818 or email@example.com or
1800 000 634 or 1800 333 000.
His last message was simple.
"If I'm gone, don't worry," wrote Ryan Chambers. "I'm not dead, I'm freeing minds. But first I have to free my own."
For days beforehand, the 21-year-old Australian backpacker had hardly slept, and his travelling companion, John Booker, wondered what was wrong. The men were staying at an ashram in India, on a spiritual journey of sorts, which was supposed to be coming to an end.
But four weeks ago he disappeared in Rishikesh - barefoot and shirtless, and left behind his money, passport and mobile phone. He remains lost - emotionally as much as physically, his parents believe - becoming one of those Australians in peril abroad and cut adrift from his family - not by kidnapping or natural disaster, but apparently by the troubles of his own mind.
Rishikesh has long been a magnet for Westerners. In 1968 it was to this sacred city on the banks of the Ganges that the Beatles made their pilgrimage to study transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. John Lennon wrote a song there, The Happy Rishikesh Song. "Everything you need is here," it went. "And everything that's not here is not there." In their footsteps, thousands of travellers beat a path to the area. This year Booker and Chambers did the same, their goals more prosaic.
The young men, friends since they went to kindergarten in Mount Gambier, left Adelaide for India on June 20. They were not out to change the world; they were just looking for an experience and an adventure. After two months they made it to Rishikesh and settled in to the Sri Ved Neketan, an ashram offering daily yoga and meditation classes.
They were happy, says Jock Chambers, who has just returned to Australia after a fruitless search for his son. "Ryan had wanted to go to India for years and John was of a similar mind. They were relaxed and having a great time."
But as the days went on, Booker started to worry. His mate did not sleep for several nights. Chambers brushed off his concern, saying he was on holiday; he could sleep when he wanted. One day, Chambers and a Spanish traveller went to the home of an Indian family to see a baba, one of the orange-robed spiritual figures common in the area. He returned to the ashram apparently unsettled, telling Booker they had left because they felt uncomfortable, but did not elaborate.
Booker later told Chambers's parents that Ryan was "not himself". Then, on August 23, Chambers called home. His mother, Dianne, felt vague unease. "He wasn't quite himself … he just said that he'd found everything that he was looking for and that he was ready to come home," she says.
They expected him back soon. "We said, 'Give us a ring tomorrow and let us know what your plans are'," says Jock Chambers. Back in Rishikesh that night, Booker thought his friend was happier. They played music and Chambers wrote in his journal. Booker, unwell, went to bed.
On August 24 Booker woke and went to an early yoga class. He assumed Chambers was sleeping, but later realised he was gone - and learned, from the employee who had opened the gates that morning, that his mate had walked out at 5am, wearing only a pair of blue shorts. By nightfall, Booker was worried enough to call Jock and Diane. Within days, Jock Chambers flew to India to join Booker in the search, later joined by Ryan's elder brother, Jarrad. With the help of Australian consular staff, they blanketed the area with posters and alerted police.
Nothing. Then, suddenly, a breakthrough: a week after Ryan disappeared someone had seen him. "He walked into a temple about 10 kilometres from Rishikesh," Jock Chambers says. There was relief at this news, tempered by concern: he seemed distressed. "He was sitting down and he was delusional, which would have been exhaustion from lack of sleep. The priest fed him and gave him a drink, but he wasn't able to stay there so he left. And again the trail has gone cold."
Chambers has not been seen since. His father believes he is still alive, but under the influence of someone or something that has taken him from them. "Ryan's always been spiritual and he's obviously looking for something but this is totally out of character. He's not thinking straight because he wouldn't put John through this and he wouldn't put his family through it."
For his mother, the battle is to focus on facts, not wild imaginings about the fate of the youngest of her three boys.
"As a mother I don't go down the mental track that I've got two sons now and not three. Each dead end you come to is not the end of the story; it's just the end of a chapter."
Based on a report by Jennifer Macey for AM
The parents of an Australian man missing in India for three years say they feel as though they have been pretty much left to fend for themselves.
Ryan Chambers, 21, from Mt Gambier in south-east South Australia, was travelling with a friend in Rishikesh at the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India when he left his room early in the morning leaving all his belongings, including his passport, behind.
Ryan's father, Jock Chambers, says after Ryan's friend phoned them to tell them he'd gone missing the first thing he and his wife Diane did was contact DFAT.
"I immediately arranged to go to India and I was there two days later, as soon as I could," he told AM.
"And met with the Indian police a day or two later, consulate officers came from New Delhi from DFAT, and for the next two-and-half weeks we searched and checked out all around Rishikesh and couldn't find a trace of him."
When Mr Chambers returned to Australia, his wife contacted the Australia Federal Police.
"We informed them that Ryan was missing and when asked where he'd gone missing, Diane said India.
"And the lady said, 'Oh no, not India' as if it was the worst place for anyone to go missing. And after three years, perhaps it is," he said.
Mr Chambers says the AFP has provided little assistance.
"The only thing they've ever done, to my knowledge mind you, is meet with DFAT and put the missing notice and Ryan's photo on their website," he said.
"About a year later I even asked if they were able to help us by ageing a photo of him so we could see what he would look like after 12 months, with long hair, long beard.
"And with all their resources, all the government resources, they said they did not have any capability to do and that referred me to a private operator."
He says he and his wife had to do everything themselves.
"That's the way we chose to do it initially but there were no Australian police there at all really," he said.
"We asked our investigation for the consulate officers from Delhi and they just kept referring to private firms - we were under the impression back then that it was all our cost.
"We paid for the Ganges to be checked three times and nothing found there. But certainly no AFP officer went anywhere near India."
He added: "It's one of these things, we're an Australian family, we've got an Australia citizen - our son - missing in India over three years.
"Every morning I get up at 4:30 and spend an hour on the internet, because that's the only avenue we've got."
An AFP spokeswoman says the investigation into a missing person is a matter for local police in the jurisdiction where they went missing.
She says AFP may assist in these cases if requested by DFAT, and that AFP officers do not have any jurisdictional authority to investigate without a request from police in that country.
DFAT has been contacted for a response.
The Mount Gambier family of missing man Ryan Chambers — who disappeared in northern India more than three years ago — has created a website in a renewed effort to find their beloved son.
His father Jock Chambers, who is the executive officer of the Mount Gambier Community RSL, yesterday urged people to send the website address to everybody they knew in a bid to find their missing son.
“We hope that this will help find him,” Mrs Chambers said.
“It will certainly enable many more people in India to become aware that Ryan is missing and that he has a family in Australia desperate to find him.”
The family — who is not willing to give up hope and believes he is still alive — have tried Australian authorities, a private investigator, Rotary International, Coca Cola India and State Bank of India in their search to find Ryan, who was just 21 when he went missing.
Following his disappearance, an appeal was made through the local India media and leaflets were distributed.
While the family’s hopes have been raised by a number of reported sightings, sadly these have not been confirmed.
Mr Chambers said many people around the world had learned of the family’s plight through the two web.
The family’s website is located at: www.ryanchambers.in
“People around the world wait for the word that Ryan has been found,” he said.
A number of psychics have also offered advice, but no result has been forthcoming for the family.
At the time of his disappearance, the 21-year-old backpacker was a staying at a spiritual retreat in Rishikesh.
According to information posted on the Indian website the India Tree, Rishikesh has long been a magnet for Westerners.
In 1968, it was to this sacred city on the banks of the Granges that the Beatles made their pilgrimage to study transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Ryan and his travelling companion John Booker — friends since kindergarten — had also wanted to go to India.
“They were not out to change the world, but for an experience and adventure,” the website says.
According to the website created by the family, on August 23 Ryan called home claiming he was ready to come home and he had “seen everything he wanted.”
“He was restless that night and early the next morning he left the Ashram when the security gate was opened,” the website said.
“He was only wearing shorts. Ryan left his belongings, cash, phone, passport and we have not heard from him since.”
Instead, Mr Chambers is checking for clues he hopes will help find his
son Ryan who went missing in India seven years ago.
The Mt Gambier father turned to the web after searches by Australian and international authorities came up blank and now believes social media is the best chance for families to track down loved ones lost overseas.
“DFAT helped out in the early days but that was about it,” he told news.com.au. “And Interpol was no better. We contacted them initially but didn’t hear anything for 18 months.”
Ryan is one of 12 Australians currently known to be missing overseas by the AFP; thousands of other families make calls to the hotline every year.
For the Chambers family, the agony started with a call from Ryan’s travelling partner and school friend who woke to find he had vanished.
A guard at the ashram they had been staying at reported seeing Ryan leave in the early hours of the morning wearing only a pair of blue shorts.
Mr Chambers flew to India within days of getting the call and spent two weeks with Australian consular officials travelling around looking for his son. Their search even included the Ganges River, but no trace of Ryan was found.
After a second visit later that year and still no progress through official channels the family decided to continue alone.
They started with a website, ryanchambers.in, which documents everything known about his travels in India and the more recent trips to find him.
There are also lots of photos of Ryan and a message board for people to share information and support.
The family also posted several pages on Indian traveller’s website India Mike.
“In the beginning we had lots of responses. Now people write to send us good wishes or blessings and sometimes there are reports of sightings,” Mr Chambers said. “Most of these have not led anywhere though because they are always when people return from holidays, sometimes 10 or 12 months later.”
A Facebook page they created for Ryan was instantly popular among the Indian community, exactly the market they were trying to target. The page had 6000 friends until it was hacked and taken down.
Mr Chambers also started following Bollywood stars and sports people in India on Twitter, tweeting them the poster they had created of Ryan and all the investigation details.
He also said they also give the poster to every Indian restaurant or shop they visit.
“Just in case, you never know who in the Australian Indian community know and if they will pass them on.”
More recently a documentary has been made about Ryan’s disappearance,
called ""Missing in the Land of Gods"
by Croation-born film-maker, Davor Dirlic.
Mr Chambers said that he and wife Dianne were approached by Dirlic personally and are both happy with the end result:
“We just want it to make it over to India though because that’s where it will really make a difference,” he said.
In the meantime he will keep rising before the dawn, keeping up his vigil on the web.
“I always try to do something,” he said.
Here’s a message from the AFP:
If families have serious concerns for the safety and welfare of a person, and their whereabouts are unknown, then they may immediately report them missing to local police by filing a missing persons report. You do not have to wait 24 hours to report someone as missing.
A missing person’s report must be filed at a local police station, you will be asked to provide:
- a physical description of the missing person including distinguishable features
- a recent photograph of the missing person
- where and when the person was last seen or heard from
- places the missing person may visit
- list of any medical problems or medications the person may need names and contacts of friends associated with the person.
RYAN Chambers was a 21-year-old backpacker when he was last seen. The South Australian is not the only person to vanish here.
Ryan has loomed large in my imagination ever since: at one time, when I was younger, as a romantic figure — a reading that assumed he had disappeared by choice — though primarily as a cautionary one. My own impulse to disappear or drop out, at times very strong, has always been kept in check by the fact that he actually did so. Perhaps that’s why I’m here: not to find him, nor even to find out what happened to him, but rather to exorcise something within myself.
Beneath me, a white-water rafter who has come free of his dinghy rockets along under the bridge on his back, kept afloat by his lifejacket. It’s fortysomething degrees in the shade and to the north the Himalayas are entering summer. The river is high, tipsy on the run-off, and the water is colder, more refreshing here than it will be by the time it makes it to the Bay of Bengal. The thought is both troubling and strangely reassuring: how easy it would be to drown here.
For a long time, Dianne and her husband, Jock, followed up every lead. There were alleged sightings, a ransom call, astrology readings predicting their son would return if they lit three candles in front of his photo every Friday. There were missing posters, searches, a private investigator. The Ganges were scoured, several times.
“I would have to say the pain takes on a different shape over time,” Dianne tells me over Facebook. “In the beginning there was the pain that came with having to find him. Thirteen years later, it’s the pain of either choosing a conclusion or just letting the whole thing be an open-ended event in our lives.”
Eventually, the leads petered out, and other missing posters went up. In 2012, Irish journalist Jonathan Spollen, then 28, went missing in circumstances not unlike Ryan’s, with his possessions discovered untouched in a clearing not far from a popular waterfall. Earlier this year, a Russian man, Sergei Shcherba, 27, also went missing in the city, though unlike Ryan and Spollen, his body was later found. It is believed he fell into a gorge while trekking.
Then there is the story of Justin Shetler, who disappeared in the Parvati Valley, a few hours north of here, two years ago. The American man, then 35, had written on his blog that he was planning to trek to the holy lake of Mantalai and “should return mid September or so”.
“If I’m not back by then, don’t look for me,” he wrote. He signed off with a winking emoji.
Shetler’s note echoed Ryan’s own, left in Room 38 of Sri Ved Niketan Ashram, almost exactly eleven years earlier:
“If I’m gone, don’t worry,” it read. “I’m not dead, I’m freeing minds. But first I have to free my own.”
I asked Dianne if she and Jock ever wished he hadn’t left the note.
“No, never,” she says. “It helped us remain hopeful for a long time. I do question how long one can remain hopeful, though, under the circumstances.”
If the note contained a glimmer of hope, it also sounded an undeniable warning bell. In 2012, investigative journalist Scott Carney wrote of a young American girl who threw herself into a meditation course in Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment. According to Carney, one night the girl, whom he referred to as Emily, wrote a brief note in her journal — “I am a Bodhisattva,” or one who has attained such a state — then ascended to the roof of the building where the course was taking place and jumped.
Shetler was also on something of a spiritual quest. He had fallen in with a baba or sadhu — in short, an ascetic holy man — who had invited him to the lake to meditate. Shetler had even suggested on his blog that “maybe Baba Life will be good for me.” One of his last photos on Instagram shows him “living in some caves in the Indian Himalayas.”
While some suspect foul play in Shetler’s case — India is rife with fake sadhus who prey on tourists, and the one Shetler knew later took his own life in police custody — others point out that the rhetoric of his posts suggest he may have gone a little too native.
In his 2000 book Fous de l’Inde, or Crazy About India, French psychologist Régis Airault coined the term “India Syndrome”. It is, he says, a form of “bouffée délirante” — short-term psychosis — that he witnessed first-hand numerous times while working for the French consulate in Mumbai.
“I would meet people claiming they heard the voice of Kali [the Hindu goddess], or had decided to swim back to France, or who had come to believe they were the reincarnation of Hitler,” he tells me by email. “These were not people with histories of psychiatric disorders, nor people with mere culture shock, nor people on drugs. I call what they had a ‘travel pathogen.’” He points out that there are other such phenomena, such as Florence Syndrome, Jerusalem Syndrome and — of course — Stockholm syndrome.
He says the cure was usually simple: a ticket home.
“When I repatriated my patients back to France, all their symptoms disappeared. They were never hospitalised,” he says.
Kundan Negi is the police investigator responsible for the Chambers and Spollen cases. We meet in his dimly-lit office on the Ganges’ western bank and then cross the road for a cup of weak milky tea. Sadhus walk about with their chillum pipes, their eyes as saffron-red as their robes. Negi has often had to send Western tourists to Dehradun, the regional capital, for psychiatric reasons, he says.
“But I’m not sure about ‘India Syndrome’,” he adds. “It turned out a lot of them had not taken their medication.”
He doesn’t know whether Ryan or Spollen had the syndrome in question, and is more inclined to blame the sadhu for Shetler’s disappearance. But he says Ryan’s note certainly wasn’t “normal” within the context of such disappearances.
But he personally believes Ryan drowned in the Ganges. “I don’t believe he’s walking around India living the life of a sadhu,” he says. “All his money was left in his room. Even sadhus and babas need money to live.”
Circumstances that August conspired against the investigation, too, he says.
“The Ganges were very high. When that happens, the city opens the floodgates downriver, meaning there is nothing to stop a body from washing away.”
There’s also the matter of Rishikesh’s status as one of the holiest places for Hindus to die. “There are a lot of bodies in the river,” he says. Assumed to be those of sadhus, none of the bodies that wash up are ever DNA tested: Negi suspects Ryan was mistaken for one of them.
“I would give anything for him or Jonathan to walk through that door right now,” Negi says after we’ve returned to his office. “I would embrace them as my brothers. But I don’t expect that will ever happen.”
Ryan’s parents have always been aware of the Ganges theory. But Dianne says there’s nothing to support it.
“It’s easy for them to say that,” she says. “Done deal, case closed, move on. But the Ganges were searched several times. Jock viewed photos of bodies recovered from the river. There is absolutely no evidence that’s what happened to Ryan.”
In recent years, Dianne and Jock have become something of elder statespeople as far as missing Westerners are concerned. They have been in touch with Spollen’s family and were in contact with Britt Lapthorne’s parents when the young Victorian went missing in Croatia in 2008. “But when her body was found, we quickly realised our journeys had taken completely different paths,” she says.
Westerners continue to go missing in India, and to wind up dead here. In April, Irish-Latvian woman Liga Skromane, 33, was found murdered in the southern state of Kerala after she had been sexually assaulted. According to reports, more than 20 foreigners went missing in the Parvati Valley, where Shetler disappeared, between 2006 and 2016, to the extent that, in some circles, the place is now known as the “Valley of Death”.
But it would be wrong to write off the country for that reason, Dianne says.
“I would never warn anyone off going to India,” she says. “It was never a place I would have chosen to visit, but I am so happy I got to experience it, even under our circumstances. It confirmed what Ryan had been saying about it the whole time.”
“We will never find him now,” she says. “We’re not actively looking any more. But if he’s alive today and is discovered, I believe our true journey will just be beginning. We will have to rediscover him for the person he now is.”
On my first day in town, I saw an elderly Western man done up in the garb of a sadhu. He had the walking stick, the begging bowl, the eyes that spoke to a tendency towards the pipe. We had made eye contact and smiled at one another, but I hadn’t stopped to talk to him. It has often seemed in Rishikesh that young Westerners have enrolled in an adopt-a-sadhu program I don’t know about, sitting around with men who don’t speak their language, looking into one another’s eyes, getting high on the vibe. Like the forums on the popular IndiaMike travel website, in which Westerners ask where they have the best chance of achieving enlightenment — and where some still believe that Shetler is holed up in a cave somewhere — it strikes me as performative, crass. Another ride at dharma Disneyland.
For this reason and others, I haven’t felt like hanging out with such men, but on my last day in town it occurs to me that I should have spoken to this one. He has dropped out, has stayed, has lingered on — and yet is still alive, still here.
Only he isn’t. I walk up and down along the Ganges from Sri Ved Niketan Ashram, where a security guard on the early morning shift was the last person to ever see Ryan Chambers alive, to the Laxman Jhula Bridge several kilometres to the north. I can’t find the old man anywhere. I’ve seen him every day of my stay and now he’s gone, eluding my grasp, and thus my understanding.
He, too, has disappeared.
It was a highly emotional moment when Di and Jock Chambers first laid eyes on the smiling face of their 21-year-old son, Ryan.
It is an image of Ryan happy and youthful — and one of the last ever captured of him before he disappeared into the Indian wilderness almost 15 years ago.
His face, frozen in time, now adorns the side of a shop in South Australia's Riverland, imploring those who pass by with its bright colours, not to forget the young man who hasn't been seen or heard from since.
While about 38,000 people are reported missing in Australia each year, most of them are found within days or weeks. Ryan Chambers is one of more than 1,600 Australians who remain missing long-term.
His giant portrait was created for The Unmissables — a short documentary series that pairs three artists with the families of missing people to create an artwork inspired by their loved one.
Ryan's mother Di Chambers said her son was a "quirky, fun loving, sensitive and humane individual" when he headed off to travel through India in 2005.
On August 24 he walked out of the ashram in Rishikesh where he was staying, leaving his possessions behind. A few unconfirmed sightings are all that have been heard of him since.
Ryan's Mount Gambier-based parents were paired with Adelaide street artist Joel Moore for the series.
When it came time to entrust Mr Moore with Ryan's story, Mrs Chambers said the decision was "very easy".
"I could just feel Ryan's soul in Joel, (they are) similar people at that soul level," she said.
Mr Moore said he felt an intense connection to Ryan, having been given access to his diaries and artwork by the family.
"It was like really crucial that I dove in all the way, and that they were just so honest and sharing and giving of their son's life with me."
The artwork itself has been painted on a donated wall on the side of a general store in the small South Australian Riverland town of Cadell.
"(It's) one of the last photos that was taken of Ryan in India while he was traveling on a train and he just looks so excited and so alive," he said.
It was a nerve-wracking moment for the artist when the Chambers' first arrived to view the finished mural.
"But (it was) also very special moment, because I saw how much they connected to this picture," Mr Moore said.
For Mrs Chambers, that first glimpse of the mural was a "huge shock".
"We had no idea what Joel was going to present," she said.
"And when we pulled up that day in the car, the enormity of Ryan's face was just overwhelming for both of us. It just it brought him to life.
Melbourne singer-songwriter Jess Ribeiro and sculptor Pimpisa Tinpalit also feature in The Unmissables series, creating pieces to tell the story of missing Victorian Atilla Bogar and New South Wales woman Elaine Johnson.
Director Madeleine Martiniello said she wanted the series to bring a "human element" to the missing person statistics by documenting the entire creative process.
"We begin with the artists as they meet the families and learn the story of the missing loved ones, and then we continue with the artists the whole way through as they grapple with how they are going to represent this person that they're not going to be able to meet," Ms Martiniello said.
The Unmissables series is based on an existing initiative founded in by the Missing Persons Advocacy Network in 2016 by Loren O'Keeffe. It pairs families of long-term missing Australians with authors and artists to represent their loved ones as more than "just those vital stats that you see on a missing persons poster".
While the ultimate goal is to reunite missing people with their loved ones, Ms O'Keeffe hoped the series will help challenge stereotypes around why people disappear.
"There are all sorts of reasons why people go missing," she said.
Mr Moore hopes his painting of Ryan will attract a lot of attention.
"The more that people share it, the more that this word will spread about this project and the possibility of identifying and possibly finding Ryan out there somewhere," he said.
For Mrs Chambers, she doesn't believe the mural will bring an answer to Ryan's whereabouts, but she does hope it and the series will inspire other missing people to contact their loved ones.
A South Australian man who has been missing for more than 17 years has officially been declared dead after exhaustive searches failed to find him.
In a judgement handed down on Friday, South Australian Supreme Court Justice Anne Bampton declared Mount Gambier man Ryan Anthony Chambers dead after he was last seen on August 24, 2005.
Mr Chambers was 21 when he travelled with his friend John Booker to India for a backpacking holiday.
He was last seen in the northern city of Rishikesh, where he was staying at the Ved Niketan Ashram, a yoga and meditation retreat.
After eating dinner on August 23, Mr Chambers told Mr Booker he was going to bed, but the next morning he was missing. Mr Chambers' wallet, passport and other personal items were left in his room.
An Indian police report from an employee of the ashram stated Mr Chambers was seen leaving the property wearing only blue shorts at 5am on August 24.
He would never be seen or heard from again.
In her findings, Justice Bampton wrote the evidence showed the "presumption of continuance of Ryan's life has been displaced and gives rise to the presumption of his death".
THE Ganges flow faster in Rishikesh.
It is the first thought I have as I cross the Ram Jhula bridge to the eastern bank of the river, where the ashram ghats lead down to the water. I was recently in Varanasi, that other great holy city on the river, and while the current there was certainly strong, it lacked ferocity, a certain malevolent air.
The Ganges have that here, that malevolence, though it must be admitted that I have a few preconceived notions about the place. I may well be projecting.
It has been nearly 13 years since Ryan Chambers, then a 21-year-old Australian backpacker, disappeared in Rishikesh, wandering out of his ashram one morning and disappearing, as the saying goes, into thin air.
I knew Ryan growing up. We went to the same primary school in Mount Gambier, South Australia, where he was a couple of years above me, and my mother worked with his.
It was due to this latter connection that I first learned of his disappearance: Dianne Chambers called to say she wouldn’t be at work for a while. I knew before the papers did.