Max Chandra walks to spread the message of charity and create an awareness of poverty at large

To get to Kochi Max Chandra walked from Goa. It took him a month and five days but here he is.

There are easier, less tortuous ways of getting from one place to another, but Max walked. He calls his charity ‘One Step At A Time', and to spread the message of charity and make people aware of the poverty that exists in our country he walks. Besides spreading awareness he hopes to be able to provide a helping hand through ‘One Step At A Time'.

He walked to Kerala, through Karnataka with a 20 kg backpack on his back. His feet are swollen and he needs rest but he is not too tired to talk about his charity and especially all that he saw.

He admits that no amount of preparation can prepare one for the adventure that he has taken up. He says he trained in the U.S., but “one cannot train for something outside the country” where he was going to walk.

At the most fundamental level there is the climate to contend with. He expends around 4,000 calories per day and keeps his intake at a low 1,500-2,000 calories, to be able to walk. He has lost almost 8 kg in a month he says.

This sort of an adventure is dangerous he agrees but this is the only way he can see the India that needs help. For, if he hadn't walked he wouldn't have seen a colony of shacks with corrugated metal sheets for roofs in Ankola. He hopes to go back and help the people there in some meaningful way. In Kerala, he hasn't so far seen extreme poverty, he says.

Sign language

A man, a foreigner at that, walking endlessly is bound to arouse suspicion. Max says no. Curiosity, yes but not suspicion he thinks. “People would come up to me and ask why I was walking and I would tell them about my charity and my aim to cover all the 28 States in India, on foot. The folks were appreciative of what I was attempting,” he says. Language does not become a barrier, “we communicate using hand signals. There is one for most of my requirements,” making gestures for eating, sleeping etc.

All that he knows when he sets out on a given day is the route (that he might stick to). Usually he takes the national highway and occasionally walks along railway tracks. Where he will eat or sleep he does not know, but that doesn't seem to worry him too much. He makes videos of what he sees and uploads it on the Facebook page of his charity. “I don't ‘ask' for charity. But if anybody donates, it is always welcome. And they can actively involve themselves in the giving.” In Goa he is involved in charities such as Child Rescue, Sethu Trust and Dalit Network.

Nothing about Max reveals his Indian connection, especially when bows his ‘namaste'. Despite his mother Leela being a Bangalorean, his first visit to India was in 2005. He returned a couple of years later to make India or more specifically Goa his home. London was home before Goa.

His ‘go to India' spiritual moment came in a flash. “I had a job that gave me no break and then one morning when I woke up it came to me in a flash. I realised either I went on like that or stopped and did a rethink on my priorities.” The route map to spiritual realisation generally and inevitably includes India and so Max ‘found' himself in India.

After a break in Kochi to recuperate he will head to Kanyakumari and then Chennai. In between he has miles to go…

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012

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