Beyond the novelty of ne'erseen shipwrecks and rooftop sunbathers, the venerable bird's-eye map of the world has emerged, for one man at least, as a beacon, guiding him home after 25 years.
Saroo Brierley was 5-years-old, living in a slum in India when he and his brother were sent to beg for money at the train station. He fell asleep on a train and woke-up ten hours and some 900 miles later in the town of Kolkata on the other side of the country. For a month he wandered the streets, 5-years-old, trying to find his way home.
Eventually he was declared an orphan and adopted by Australians. He spent the next 25 years growing up in Tasmania, more than 8,000 miles away.
All the while he remembered his home, scattered images.
Ten years ago he began the search. City by city, comparing maps to the images in his memory. In the end, it was Google Earth that brought him home. Thousands of hours scouring images, and there was the train station from his childhood. The place it all began some quarter-century before.
He booked a ticket and returned to India, walked the streets, asked of anyone who would listen, and on a narrow roadway in a place buried in childhood memories, he knocked on a door that had been closed nearly all his life. His mother answered.
Orphan finds his way home using Google Earth
What a story!