A friend of the family recognized Mr Venkateshwarlu from a video, who was then more than 2,000 kilometres from his home, the BBC reports.
That’s the great story of the moment in India. A father was able to find his family, from whom he had unwittingly walked away two years ago, thanks to the social network TikTok, which consists of posting short videos and whose use has soared during the lockdown around the world. As the BBC explains, it was a family friend who thought he recognized Venkateshwarlu from a video posted by Ajaib Singh. Singh, a policeman followed by nearly 800,000 people on TikTok, was filmed distributing food to people living on the streets in Ludhiana, a city in the northern Punjab state of Punjab.
Among those people was Mr. Venkateshwarlu, whose age is not specified. His family had been looking for him for more than two years. At the time, the worker, who was married and had five children, was living in a village in the southern state of Telangana, nearly 2,000 kilometres from Ludhiana. His family had been without news of him since April 2018, when he climbed into a truck to look for work in a nearby village. “My father fell asleep and the truck driver didn’t know he was there. Several kilometres later, the driver realized that my father was in the truck, so he dropped him in the middle of the road and left him there,” his son told the BBC.
Suffering from speech and hearing problems, Mr. Venkateshwarlu then hitchhiked home. But he mistakenly ended up in Ludhiana, an industrial city of more than 1.4 million people, in a state where he does not speak the language, Punjabi. He has been living on the food donations of the local people ever since. His family had tried to find him with the help of the local police several thousand kilometres away in Telangana, without success. Until this stroke of luck and this TikTok video.
The Ludhiana police were contacted and found Mr. Venkateshwarlu, who was able to speak to his son on the phone. “We both burst into tears when we first saw each other. He asked me to come and take him home, signalling him in his own way,” said his son. The authorities asked them to wait until the end of the confinement in India, recently extended until 31 May “at the very least”, to organize the reunion. “But we couldn’t wait that long to see him, so we managed to get a permit that would allow me to travel across the states,” says her son, who finally brought his father home on Tuesday after a week-long trip.