The desiccating mid-May heat of Delhi couldn’t shrivel his enthusiasm, which has remained just as unfazed by the Himalayan chill. Max Chandra, a U.K. national of part Indian origin, is on an ingenious hike since November 2011, resolved to trek through the length and breadth of the country to raise funds and create awareness about those in need of aid. He walks about 40 km daily, which is way beyond the average capacity of a normal adult.
Chandra has braved torrential weather, slept under the stars and befriended nomads on his way through the varied terrains of the country. Of late, he has covered a distance of 1,500 km touring from New Delhi to Leh, through Rishikesh, Chandigarh, Simla, Manali and then back to Delhi via Punjab and Haryana.
Chandra hasn’t been able to resist the charms of Indian culture and enjoys walking at sunrise to the accompaniment of the ‘operas’ sung during the morning artis. But the lack of health stores and the unavailability of essential nutrients on the go have taken their toll on Max. His right kidney is deteriorating and he has passed out twice on his treks. Tendon problems in his knees, ankles and lower back have also been the flip-side of his lone expedition as exhaustion and fatigue remain a regular phenomenon.
He would like his initiative to have a ripple effect and be joined by others. However, most of his enthusiastic volunteers withdraw as they cannot muster the stamina to match Chandra’s.
Having trained for 25 years now, Max is an expert in matters of losing and gaining weight. So, what goes into the preparations for a walk? He gradually lowers his calorie consumption to less than 500 calories per day. An exercise to reduce fluid intake follows.
Chandra boasts of his capacity to walk for two contiguous days without food or water. He owes the genesis of the idea of 'Walking for a Cause' to his firsthand experience of seeing people wash themselves in gutters when he left his corporate job in the U.K. to respond to a calling of his roots and set out to traverse the wide expanse of the Indian mainland.
His doctor predicted he had only 24 hours to live if he continued on his walking spree, when he suffered a renal failure last year. What keeps him going? Max attributes it to an unshakable belief that his cause is doing its bit in heralding a change.
'The trick is to train the mind. I cannot let it take over my body and run it empty,' says Chandra, whose northern sojourn concluded recently in the Capital.
Miles to go sir; literally!