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Thread: Little boy lost finds his mother using Google Earth. 25 years later.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Default Little boy lost finds his mother using Google Earth. 25 years later.

    13 April 2012 Last updated at 19:26 ET

    Little boy lost finds his mother using Google Earth


    By Robin Banerji
    BBC World Service



    An Indian boy who lost his mother in 1986 has found her 25 years later from his new home in Tasmania - using satellite images.
    Saroo was only five years old when he got lost. He was travelling with his older brother, working as a sweeper on India's trains. "It was late at night. We got off the train, and I was so tired that I just took a seat at a train station, and I ended up falling asleep."
    That fateful nap would determine the rest of his life. "I thought my brother would come back and wake me up but when I awoke he was nowhere to be seen. I saw a train in front of me and thought he must be on that train. So I decided to get on it and hoped that I would meet my brother."
    Saroo did not meet his brother on the train. Instead, he fell asleep and had a shock when he woke up 14 hours later. Though he did not realise it at first, he had arrived in Calcutta, India's third biggest city and notorious for its slums.
    "I do not think any mother or father would like to have their five year old wandering alone in the slums and train stations of Calcutta”
    Saroo Brierley


    "I was absolutely scared. I didn't know where I was. I just started to look for people and ask them questions."
    Soon he was sleeping rough. "It was a very scary place to be. I don't think any mother or father would like to have their five year old wandering alone in the slums and trains stations of Calcutta."
    The little boy learned to fend for himself. He became a beggar, one of the many children begging on the streets of the city. "I had to be quite careful. You could not trust anyone." Once he was approached by a man who promised him food and shelter and a way back home. But Saroo was suspicious. "Ultimately I think he was going to do something not nice to me, so I ran away."
    But in the end, he did get off the streets. He was taken in by an orphanage, which put him up for adoption. He was adopted by the Brierleys, a couple from Tasmania. "I accepted that I was lost and that I could not find my way back home, so I thought it was great that I was going to Australia."
    Saroo settled down well in his new home. But as he got older the desire to find his birth family became increasingly strong. The problem was that as an illiterate five-year-old he had not known the name of the town he had come from. All he had to go on were his vivid memories. So he began using Google Earth to search for where he might have been born.
    "It was just like being Superman. You are able to go over and take a photo mentally and ask, 'Does this match?' And when you say, 'No', you keep on going and going and going."
    Google Earth image that helped Saroo find his way home


    Eventually Saroo hit on a more effective strategy. "I multiplied the time I was on the train, about 14 hours, with the speed of Indian trains and I came up with a rough distance, about 1,200km."


    He drew a circle on a map with its centre in Calcutta, with its radius about the distance he thought he had travelled. Incredibly, he soon discovered what he was looking for: Khandwa. "When I found it, I zoomed down and bang, it just came up. I navigated it all the way from the waterfall where I used to play."
    Soon he made his way to Khandwa, the town he had discovered online. He found his way around the town with his childhood memories. Eventually he found his own home in the neighbourhood of Ganesh Talai. But it was not what he had hoped for. "When I got to the door I saw a lock on it. It look old and battered, as if no-one had lived there for quite a long time."
    Saroo had a photograph of himself as a child and he still remembered the names of his family. A neighbour said that his family had moved.
    "Another person came and then a third person turned up, and that is when I struck gold. He said, 'Just wait here for a second and I shall be back.' And when he did come back after a couple of minutes he said, 'Now I will be taking you to your mother.'"
    Lost and found



    • 1981: Saroo is born
    • 1986: He loses his family and ends up living on the streets of Calcutta
    • 1987: He is adopted by an Australian couple and grows up in Tasmania
    • 2011: He finds his home town on Google Earth
    • 2012: He is reunited with his mother in Khandwa


    "I just felt numb and thought, 'Am I hearing what I think I am hearing?'"
    Saroo was taken to meet his mother who was nearby. At first he did not recognise her.
    "The last time I saw her she was 34 years old and a pretty lady, I had forgotten that age would get the better of her. But the facial structure was still there and I recognised her and I said, 'Yes, you are my mother.'
    "She grabbed my hand and took me to her house. She could not say anything to me. I think she was as numb as I was. She had a bit of trouble grasping that her son, after 25 years, had just reappeared like a ghost."
    Although she had long feared he was dead, a fortune teller had told Saroo's mother that one day she would see her son again. "I think the fortune teller gave her a bit of energy to live on and to wait for that day to come."
    And what of the brother with whom Saroo had originally gone travelling? Unfortunately, the news was not good. "A month after I had disappeared my brother was found in two pieces on a railway track." His mother had never known whether foul play was involved or whether the boy had simply slipped and fallen under a train.
    "We were extremely close and when I walked out of India the tearing thing for me was knowing that my older brother had passed away."
    For years Saroo Brierley went to sleep wishing he could see his mother again and his birth family. Now that he has, he feels incredibly grateful. He has kept in touch with his newly found family.
    "It has taken the weight off my shoulders. I sleep a lot better now."
    And there is something to make him sleep better - with memories of Slumdog Millionaire still fresh, publishers and film producers are getting interested in his incredible story.
    BBC News - Little boy lost finds his mother using Google Earth

    REUNION: Saroo Brierley with his mum Kamla, who had searched for him since he went missing.
    http://www.themercury.com.au/article...ania-news.html

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

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    Elite Member angelais's Avatar
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    Like I say, Google is your friend. That bitch can find anything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelais View Post
    Like I say, Google is your friend. That bitch can find anything.
    This!
    Free Charmed.

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    Elite Member mtlebay's Avatar
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    What a heartwarming story.
    Go Habs Go!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtlebay View Post
    What a heartwarming story.

    It is!

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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    That makes me teary.
    rollo likes this.
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    Elite Member SHELLEE's Avatar
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    Wow, how awsome is technology today? What a wonderful story to read first thing.
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    Elite Member stef's Avatar
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    aw, what a nice story. great publicity for google.


    "A month after I had disappeared my brother was found in two pieces on a railway track."
    damn.
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    So sweet! But what the heck is wrong with his adoptive parents and the orphanage? He obviously got lost, why not try to do the same thing (without google of course) years ago and try to track down his mother or family? Very strange.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    The orphanage probably didn't have access to detailed satellite images.
    analyzer likes this.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

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    Of course not. But you don't need detailed satellite images when you can ask the kid his mother's name and what town (or determine from the general travel descriptions) he came from and if anyone has reported a missing child. It's not very likely that they would have found her but it doesn't even appear that anyone tried at all. Just seems strange.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Most little kids call their mother some equivalent of "mom". He didn't know the name of the town. That's why he had to look on Google earth to match features he remembered. It's not at all strange and we don't know what steps were taken to look.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

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    Well that's true, but he knew her name years later. Maybe they did try to find her, but just seems weird the way he describes it. As if no one even tried to see if they could find his parents or home.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    You're making weirdness where there isn't any. It says he knew the names of his family. That doesn't translate into being able to track them down. This was the eighties. There weren't computer databases you could look up missing children in.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    Plus, of course, there's the entire section of the story which details that he did not know what town he came from, that he had traveled 14 hours and, of course, it's India, which is not necessarily known for detailed records.

    What about the orphanage & adoptive parents? My god it's a one in a million chance that he found his way to an orphanage.

    Truly a heartwarming story.
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