- 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.
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, 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.