Google Earth: Saroo’s Search


When I was five years old, I wandered
onto an empty train somewhere in India and fell asleep waiting for my brother. When I woke up, I stepped off the
train with no idea of how to get back. I described a map of my hometown to the
Australian parents who eventually adopted me, but it wasn’t until 25 years later
that I heard about a tool that might help. I began the search for the family I’d lost
undeterred by the reality of what I was trying to do: find a family of four in a country
of more than a billion. Starting with the first thing I knew,
I got off the train at Howrah Station, Kolkata. I thought about how long I was on board
and worked out my search radius. I didn’t speak Bengali
so Bangladesh was out. I remembered looking up at the stars
so I wasn’t from a city. I remembered it being warm at night
which ruled out the colder regions. From there my only option
was to follow the tracks that still remained. Night after night for three years. Until the night
I came across a station symbol and a water tower,
and an overpass and a ring road. It was the station
where I fell asleep 25 years earlier. From 10,000km away,
I began to follow the path I walked daily as a child until I finally found what I’d been looking for…

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