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Google Earth: Saroo’s Search

True Story

Google Earth: Saroo’s Search

Saroo Brierley found his childhood home after being lost for 25 years. Follow along as Saroo walks through just how he did it.

Saroo Brierley (born 1981) is an Indian-born Australian businessman who, at age five, was accidentally separated from his biological mother. He was adopted by an Australian couple and, 25 years later, reunited with his biological mother. His story generated significant international media attention, especially in Australia and India.

He studied business and hospitality at the Australian International Hotel School in Canberra. As an adult, he spent many hours over many months conducting searches using the satellite images on Google Earth, painstakingly following railway lines radiating out from Howrah railway station. He relied on his vague memories of the main features around Burhanpur railway station, although he knew little of the name of the station except that it began with the letter B. Late one night in 2011, he came upon a small railway station that closely matched his childhood recollection of where he had become trapped in an empty carriage; the name of this station was Burhanpur, very close to a phonetic spelling of the name he remembered from his childhood ordeal. He followed the satellite images of the railway line north and found the town of Khandwa. He had no recollection of that name, but the town contained recognizable features, such as a fountain near the train tracks where he used to play. He was able to trace a path through the streets to what appeared to be the place where he and his family used to live.

Following up on a lead, Saroo contacted a Facebook group based in Khandwa. The Facebook group reinforced his belief that Khandwa might be his hometown.

In 2012, Saroo travelled to Khandwa in India and asked residents if they knew of any family that had lost their son 25 years ago. He showed photographs of himself as a child in Hobart. Local people soon led him to his mother. He was also reunited with his sister, Shekila, and his surviving brother, Kallu, who were now a schoolteacher and factory manager, respectively. With Saroo and Guddu gone, their mother was able to afford to send them to school.

An autobiographical account of his experiences, A Long Way Home, was published in 2013 in Australia, released internationally in 2014, and adapted into the 2016 film Lion, starring Dev Patel as Saroo and Nicole Kidman as his adoptive mother, Sue Brierley.

 

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I'm a hardworking, simple guy and still looking at the world with a childlike wonder. I run, hikes, over-drink tea and coffee. I am a hardcore coder and I love to do that. And if I hadn't gone into coding, I probably would have gone into painting and cooking or investment banking. Being a Bengali, I eat a lot and love to play football. I am a big fan of world movies and a great admirer of Bergman, Kurosawa and Tarantino.

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