By Sahana Ghosh, Kolkata, Jan 27 IANS | 7 months ago

India-origin Australian businessman Saroo Brierley, author of 'A Long Way Home' that details how he tracked down his family in Madhya Pradesh after 25 years of separation, says his memoir has opened up avenues for adoption in Australia, particularly of children from India.


Brierley was born in Madhya Pradesh's Khandwa town. In 1986, aged only 5, he lost all contact with his family when he was at a train station in Howrah waiting for his brother, who never returned. Roaming the streets of Kolkata for three weeks by himself, Saroo then got placed into a local orphanage where an Australian family adopted him. He grew up in Hobart where he spent the next 25 years.

"It has opened up the gates to adoption because so long, Australia has been really closed to adoption from other countries, but more so from India. I am not sure why that is so...I am not aware of the political part but now its opening its gates and there are many people out there who would like to help other children," he told IANS on the sidelines of the third Kolkata Literary Meet here.

After spending years trying to track down his old town through the labyrinth of railway lines on Google Earth and an image etched into his brain as a five year old, he finally found Khandwa on the map and travelled to India to try and find members of his family. In early 2012, after 25 years of separation, he reunited with his mother.

The book was released June, 2013 in Australia and climbed straight to the number one slot on the non-fiction bestseller list. It is scheduled to be adapted on the big screen next year.

He hopes that people who intend to connect with their roots in other countries can utilise his strategy that he details in his memoir.

"I hope reading about my journey would empower them...educate them and perhaps makes them realise that here's a guy that got lost and found his way home using these means and tools and I hope that my strategy would help them, regardless of whether you are of Indian origin or haveany other ethnic background."

"Some people wouldn't know where to start and this story would give them a starting point," he believed.

Hailing the world wide web and tools like Google Earth and Facebook, he said: "The information is out there on the internet at the tip of your finger and you just have to go forward and use them."

Brierley admits that his adoptive family was initially apprehensive and feared he would not return after finding his biological mother.

"My (adoptive) mother advised me to be diplomatic about the process. I didn't want them to come (during the journey to India) as they are of Caucasian background and coming to a conservative place I didn't want to endanger them. I didn't know where I was going...besides, it was more of my journey and I wanted to go through it on my own."

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at sahana.g@ians.in)

(Posted on 27-01-2014)