Without mincing words, technology has proven its importance to the existence and joy of man. Have you ever imagined how important the various social media networks have been to your life? If not, you may need it just pretty soon. At the end of the day, you could as well say what you would about technology or even the social media. At least it helped an Indian boy find his mother using a satellite imagery of the earth after years of separation.
Saroo Brierley was born in an Indian village, and when he was five years old, he made the mistake of his life. While travelling with his brother, a sweeper on a train, he fell asleep at a train station. Unable to locate his brother, Saroo got on the next train he saw, and fell asleep again only to wake up some 14 hours later in Calcutta. He became a street child there living on street begging. Saroo was taken in by an orphanage and considered lucky to be adopted by a couple from Tasmania, Australia. This was making the best of a bad situation. He accepted that he was lost and that he could not find his way back home, so he thought it was great going to Australia.
As he grew older, he felt an intense desire to reunite with his family. Since he had been only five and illiterate when he got lost, he could not remember the name of his village. What he did remember were his village’s geographical features. So he began what must have seemed, to many, a fool’s errand. He started searching for his birthplace on Google Earth. As he described it, “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, the research is unending.” Oh no, it actually ended, and that with result.
Today, Saroo is beholden to Google Earth for the search for his lost family. Saroo, like a lot of people, would have held to the belief that social media cannot do more than help make new friends through the Internet. In the same vein, there is no denying the fact that people spend endless hours of their days on the Internet with the inability to maximise the scores of advantages it offers.
However, when his efforts and method initially proved fruitless, Saroo opted for a more practical methodology: he multiplied the time he had spent on the train, 14 hours, by the speed of trains when he was lost in 1986. He drew an appropriate radius from Calcutta on a map, and began searching again.
Then something crazy happened: he landed in his old village, virtually so to say. When he found it, he zoomed down and banged, it just came up. He navigated it all the way from the waterfall where he used to play. His town, he learned, was called Khandwa. And so he went there, 25 years after his fateful nap, and found his way around the town with his childhood memories. Eventually, he found his home in the neighbourhood of Ganesh Talai.
A neighbour told him his family had moved; somebody was kind to take him to his mother who had been told by a fortuneteller she would see her son again. Unfortunately though, Saroo was later told that his brother with whom he embarked on that fateful trip was found dead on a railway track a month after he (Saroo) was declared missing.
By David Lawal