On Sept 4, 2014, 3 days after we left Burning Man 2014, we received an email that began this way:
My name is Neda and I am extremely interested to join your project, I am Persian and translated the phrase ‘still believing’ to Farsi which will look like following:
هنوز باور دارم”
After some back and forth with Neda, we finally managed to get the text in Farsi to align the right way (that is, from Right to Left) and got Neda to approve of what was going to be her first tattoo.
By the time Neda got her Love Letter To the World tattoo photographed, it was February 2015. In mid-February Neda sent us a few photographs of her tattoo, along with a favor: “Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a ticket to BM… Could you please do me this great favour and let me know if you hear from anyone with an extra ticket?”
By the end of February, Neda and I were going back and forth again, this time about more personal stuff. I told her that my Bulgarian great-grandmother—a strong-willed woman by all accounts—was also named Neda. Neda responded: “My name in Farsi means voice or call. How come your great-grandmother’s name was Neda?” I had no idea. (Last summer, during my visit home, I asked my mother what the name Neda means in Bulgarian. She did not know.)
By May, we had introduced Neda to our fellow Burner campmates at Kentucky Fried Camp. Neda was invited to join our camp soon thereafter.
Here is the story she sent us today, 4 days before we meet her face to face on the playa:
“It was August 2014 and I was following Burning Man on BMIR, the official radio station of Black Rock City. The very first interview I heard was with Kremena and Kurt. They were talking about the Lexington Tattoo Project and about how it inspired them to create a global artwork, Love Letter To the World. At the end, they invited people to participate. I had always wanted to get a tattoo and I instantly loved the whole concept of the LLTW project; what could possibly be a better reason to get my very first tattoo?
I am from Iran and left it 14 years ago. Since then, I have lived in many different countries for my education. Leaving my country at a young age and never being in the same country for more than a few years had an unfortunate consequence for me: the concept of belonging just faded away over time; community, home, sharing similar hopes and values—they all became lost notions…at least in my case, especially because I am not able to travel back to Iran freely to visit my family…
Love Letter To the world gave me all these lost definitions back! The LLTW project made it possible to get to know so many beautiful people and feel something in common with them. My tattoo, ‘still believing,’ is translated in Farsi and tattooed on my right ankle. I guess in some way I like to still believe that we are worthy of love, caring for one another, and sharing a beautiful life. Somehow, I’d like to believe that we can still make changes in our own lives for the better—and, consequently, in the lives of others who are dear to us… I want to still believe that I belong to an international community, to a WORLD where there are no differences and no discrimination, where a beautiful poem can bring us all together…
Still, it is hard to believe that all these amazing connections and feelings are born from a simple radio show! But the most incredible part of all these new events that are happening in my life, events initiated by LLTW, is that I am going to Burning Man! Soon I get to meet some of the amazing people I feel connected to!”
Neda, we too can’t wait to meet you in person!