Priyanka Sacheti speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Oman is Mars: An Alien All Along,” which appears in a portfolio of writing from the Arabian Gulf, in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Priyanka talks about her feeling of not belonging anywhere—born in Australia to an Indian family, but growing up in Oman as a third culture kid. She also discusses her work as a poet and an artist, and her experience being stranded between countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Podcast: Priyanka Sacheti on “Oman is Mars: An Alien All Along”
“We want to simulate Mars on Earth and so we need a place that looks as much like Mars as possible. And we found it here in Oman.” —Alexander Soucek, lead flight director of the AMADEE-18 mission, in Phys Org, October 30, 2017
The first time my husband visited me in Oman years ago, he peered down from the plane window and received his first glimpse of the landscape: an undulating palette of browns, beige, mauve, and grays. This is Mars, he thought to himself. Mars on Earth.
We never had carts, only donkeys that trotted along unencumbered. But my imagination sketched a cart onto every donkey I saw.
I learned to pray facing a well. My grandfather would stand behind me, reciting the words I was to memorize, and scraping at the ground with a stick that was always ready to leap onto my back at the slightest slip. I would repeat his words without mistake.