Who’s this man?

I tried to look on the Internet, but could not find the answer. Ulan bator lovers or dwellers, help us: who is this man portrayed on one of the hills near Zaisan? Just guess, let’s see if someone comes up with the right answer!


Wedding day report

Disclaimer: this is going to be a monster post, but I promise to keep the next ones shorter!


Despite an administrative problem, a ribbon that wouldn’t be undone by our best man when we had to exchange rings, the worst nightmare of all – an accident with my wedding dress involving an aunt stepping onto it and tearing it apart, albeit in a non-visible way –, and a wasp that somehow managed to find her way inside my bodice and sting me twice on my tummy, we pulled it off. We are husband and wife!

Our wedding day was, oh, so special. After a sleepless night – I might have slept about an hour between 3.15 and 4.15 am – I finally got up at 5 and changed into my running gear. I had already planned to go out for a short run because I wanted to have some alone time before all hell broke loose. I needed to find peace. When I went out I didn’t even know it was raining. It was a quiet rain, one that accommodated my need for peace of mind. When I got back I was drenched, but as the saying goes (in Italian), “Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata”. Let’s get this part done, I thought, so that the sun can shine later in the day. And it did.

It took me almost three hours to get ready, with Irene doing my hair and make up and Sofia taking pictures of us. Throughout all that I was trying to keep calm and focus at the same time. I didn’t want the day to slip away from me. I wanted to be in the moment. I let my mind and heart wonder and I allowed myself to feel whatever feelings came to me. My sisters eventually left, and I slipped into my wedding dress. At that point I was alone with my dad, and only had to wait for the car to be sent to me. My brother in law – who was extra elegant in his new dress – handed me my bouquet. It was the perfect bouquet, the prettiest bouquet I had ever seen.

We arrived a few minutes early, but because the marriage certificate had my sister’s name instead of mine we had to wait for the name to be changed on the paper. I finally went up the second flight of stairs and made my big entrance, with the music playing and everybody looking at me. I felt disoriented for a split second, before looking up at my very-soon-to-be husband. I went up to him (too fast, my mum said afterwards, too fast, you were rushing down the aisle!), kissed him on the cheek, and wiped away the mark that I’d left with my supposedly non-transfer lipstick. We sat down, both of us incredibly full of emotions, and we locked our hands for a good ten minutes, until we were allowed to exchange rings. First the best man couldn’t undo the ribbon that held the rings in place, then I had a hard time slipping the ring onto my newly-wed husband’s finger. Oh well, our photographer would have some more time to take a nice pic of that very special moment. My ring was easier. My sister read out a poem, and then we read our vows out loud.

Francesco started, already making me emotional, even though his vows were full of humour. I laughed and cried, but when I started reading my vows I was already so emotional that I knew I would cry my heart out. I did. I cried so much I look teary-eyed in all the pictures taken immediately after, but I was in good company, as almost everybody in the audience wept as well. My mum, whom I have never seen being emotional, looked close to tears as well, even though I was not able to spot a real tear on her face.

Then we took pictures, and then more pictures, and then more pictures, until we were finally free to go take more pictures. I freaked out shortly about the dress mishap and felt really disappointed for about 15 minutes, but then I figured I didn’t want to have my whole day ruined by it. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend took us to a park and then to a very cute lookout to take some pictures, and I immediately grabbed the chance to hug and kiss my husband as many times as it is humanly possible in an hour. I think we might have set a new record.

When we arrived at the reception venue everything was exactly as we had wanted it, even though the run up had been everything but smooth. The sun was out, there was a light breeze, the food was excellent, the garden was gorgeous, and our friends were waiting for us to celebrate. We went around the garden, chatted with everybody, took pictures again (my least favourite part, but maybe I’ve already mentioned it?), had some food (although not as much as I would have wanted), then marked the quiz we had organised for our guests and proclaimed the winner. As I imagined, not only did the quiz bring our guests together, but it also brought out the competitiveness within them. We had a good laugh, with Brits giving the wrong answer to the question about the number of Commonwealth countries and a Norwegian guest indicating that the moose was a predator in Norway.

The afternoon slipped away too quickly. We cut the cake, after giving a very short and totally improvised speech, and enjoyed that moment too. My heart was full. I felt so grateful and blessed for all the love that surrounded me, and so proud to be standing next to my husband.

To sum up the mood of the day I could maybe quote two friends. One said “I want my wedding to be just like that”, and the other said: “I have to find a man who looks at me the way Chiara looks at Francesco”. Have a look at the picture and you will understand what she meant.