When he was five years old, Saroo Brierley fell asleep on a stationary train after a long, hard day of begging for change on the streets of Ganesh Talai, India.

His brother, who was supposed to wake him up, was sadly struck by a different train and died.

The following morning, Saroo awoke to find himself aboard a moving train to parts unknown.


After surviving an abduction attempt and a near-drowning in the Ganges, Saroo was ultimately adopted by an Australian couple and shipped off to live Down Under.

Over the next 25 years, Saroo kept the images of his hometown alive in his memory, hoping against hope to some day find his way back to his family.

One day, while online, Saroo arrived at the realization that he might be able to use Google Earth and its sibling product Google Maps to track down his childhood home.

Calling forth all he could remember about that fateful day, Saroo was able to narrow down the possibilities, and eventually took a leap of faith on a small suburb in the Khandwa district.

His hunch ultimately proved correct, and he was reunited with his mother in 2012.

Yesterday, Google Maps released an ad celebrating Saroo's long journey back home.

The three-minute ad barely touches on Saroo's years-long struggle to discover his origins, but in those three minutes it manages to definitively prove that real life can be as incredible if not more so than anything ad execs can invent.

For those who want to know more, here are 60 minutes on the subject:

[H/T: Mashable]