Lost Indian boy finds family 25 years later using Google Earth

If there is ever to be another movie based on an Indian boy for whom 'destiny' works out (hint: Slumdog 2), it might take inspiration from this story. According to the BBC, the boy, named Saroo had gotten lost when he was five years old. At the time, he and his brother were working as sweepers on a train. He said that it was late at night and he had just gotten off the train and fallen asleep on one of the seats at the train station. He thought his brother would wake him up but when he did finally wake up (on his own), his brother was nowhere to be found. Thinking his brother to be on a train, he got on the train in hopes of meeting him. He did not meet his brother on the train and eventually fell asleep on the train. When he woke up, he was in Kolkata, then Calcutta. Of course, he was scared and did not know what to do. He became a beggar and had to be very careful of people and he learned not to trust anyone.

The satellite image of Khandwa where Saroo is from

The satellite image of Khandwa where Saroo is from




He was eventually taken in by an orphanage who put him up for adoption. He was adopted by a family, the Brierleys, who were from Tasmania. Saroo moved to Australia and got adapted to the place well, however, he also had a desire to find his family and where he came from. He did not remember the name of the town where he was from. That's where Google Earth came in. Using satellite images and images from his memory he was still was not able to find his town. He then applied some math. He remembered that he was on the train for 14 hours and using the speed that Indian trains travel at, he estimated that his town was about 1,200 km away from Calcutta. He then drew a circle on a map, using a radius of 1,200 km and keeping the center as Calcutta. He then found out he was from Khandwa and the images in Google Earth matched those from his memory.


Saroo then traveled to Khandwa and went to the village where he was from, Ganesh Talai. When he reached there, he found his house appearing to be abandoned with a lock on it. He had with him a photograph of himself from when he was a child and remembered the name of his family. Using that he asked multiple people if they knew what happened to his family and finally, one person told him that he would take Saroo to his mother. When he reached her, he was able to recognize her but she had trouble grasping the fact that he was her son. While she was elated to see him, she also had bad news about his brother. A month after Saroo was away, his brother was found lying on the railway tracks in two pieces. However, Saroo is just happy to have been reunited with his family and stays in touch.

Published Date: Apr 18, 2012 11:00 am | Updated Date: Apr 18, 2012 11:00 am