April 15, 2012

Lost at age 5, with no place names, but only visual memory, a man, 25 years later, uses Google Earth to find his way back to his mother.

This is an amazing story!
"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."

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."

19 comments:

Wally Kalbacken said...

Amazing, but, is it true? I mean, consider the source.

cubanbob said...

Wally Kalbacken said...
Amazing, but, is it true? I mean, consider the source.

4/15/12 12:52 PM

Life is full of strange and amazing things, why presume that this isn't true unless their is evidence to the contrary.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Amazing story.

Kind of puts all the whining and bitching about trivial and foolish things in perspective....

Like not being given free birth control pills, running out of unemployment insurance and having to go back to work, being asked to pay something towards your own health insurance ....Oh the inhumanity....

Makes our problems seem petty and small.

Compare our selfish entitlement mindset.

If people in the US had to live the life that MOST people in the rest of the world do, perhaps we would have a lot less self indulgent whining.

bagoh20 said...

I have done similar things to find places where I explored as a child on vacations, summers with relatives, and walking excursions. Most of this is in rural Pennsylvania which has changed surprisingly little in over 4 decades. Google maps and especially Street View is just awesome. Long before Google maps, there was Terraserver with satellite photos that were still pretty good. It's cool now that you can slide a button and even look back in time with older images from decades ago and see how an area has changed. Behind my home are open fields of trees and with abandoned streets leveled in the 60s to expand the airport. I can go back and see the houses that were there in the 60's It very cool.

edutcher said...

This is what technology is doing for the world.

You program something commercial and you say big deal.

Then you see something like this and realize what it can help people do.

rhhardin said...

Google earth pic of me scything the lawn

Odds are improved by

1. They need a clear day

2. I need a nice day

3. Scything takes a lot of time

deborah said...

rh, do you see Vicki?

EDH said...

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.

Already done.

The Adventures of Joe Dirt

"Dang!"

pm317 said...

wow, what a story. Going somewhere and not remembering where I came from and not being able to find my way back, those are all my stress dream themes but this guy lived through it. I am sure this kind of thing happens many times over in poverty stricken Indian city streets but this guy's fortune was being adopted by people from a rich country and extricating him from further misery.

deborah said...

This story hits home for me. My dad was stationed at Pendleton and El Toro, and I have very good geographical memories, starting from about the age of 4 through 9 years, when we left for Ohio. A few years ago I realized I could google for the locations. All of the houses are still standing, except for the ones on base in El Toro. I have taken screen caps of the street views. Strange to see how small they were, and eerie to see the neighbors steps really weren't that tall, and to see their kumquat tree, I think, still peaking over their fence.

Recently my dad was wondering about the cold weather training he took at Pickel Meadows. I found it on google earth and put it as his desktop, which he appreciated :)

Karnival said...

I dunno. After reading the previous linked story- that of Tania Head, I'm not sure I'm ready to believe this one. Too many people with desires to have a spotlight on them. Fame=Fortune to so many.

Call me cynical but I'm to the point where I don't believe anything I hear and only a part of what I see. Everything is in play these days.

Except my dog. I trust my dog. And my wife...I guess. Wait...I'm not sure.

Chip Ahoy said...

When I saw photos of what has become of Tachikawa I did not quite believe them nor the report, nor the maps. None of it matched. I could not find a single thing that matched the images that are burned indelibly in my mind. Burned, I tell you. Nor could the area possibly be guarded by one man on a bicycle. Lies! The present is all lies.

David said...

I was able to find the airfield in Italy where my father was stationed during the second world war. It had been farm fields before the war, and became the fields again. But even though they have been plowed under, the outline of the runways and taxiways is there, ghost white under the brown dirt of the reclaimed fields.

pm317 said...

I don't know if the doubters on this board read the article. It is not some third world kid making up stories though that should also be given the benefit of the doubt. He was adopted by a couple in Tasmania and found his way back to his roots thanks to Google Earth. Indian villages don't change much unless there is some really big economic boom -- I am sure I can find my grandmother's house intact in the village she lived.

rhhardin said...

Me scything the back yard around 2pm today, via hat cam, one ten minute swath.

bagoh20 said...

It's reassuring to know that the Grim Reaper is an Althouse regular, a dog lover, and busy doing the lawn. I can relax now.

Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JAL said...

Amazing story.

We wanted to see a picture of his and his mother.

Consider that he had the rail lines to follow also and that helped his search.

We lived in India (pm317 -- have you looked yet?) and I have already been "back" to the mountains.

One night #1 son and I were talking - he in California and me in NC -- and I was telling him about the changes in our old neighborhood so we both ended up on google "driving" down the road so I could show him.

There are really cool things about the internets!

God bless the lost boy and his found family.

Gene said...

This might make a good movie but there's no way it can be true. The story is entirely singled sourced. Why didn't the reporter call the adoptive parents in Australia? Where are the interviews with the mother? The neighbors? The town mayor?

As Ben Bradlee once said about the Janet Cooke's Pulitzer prize winning about a child heroin addict--"over-checking has ruined many a good story." That's what happened here. Someone came to the reporter with a good story and he simply ran it as told to him with never a phone call to mar the tale.