My initial reaction on hearing this was subdued excitement, for the e mail I received certainly promised a bright spectacle - it was after all themed 'Night Glow'.
I love balloons and I dream of drifting across the Masai Mara one day. So, look forward I did to this event, proudly sponsored by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board - 22 Hot Air Balloons lit up and on display!
My first intimation that all was not quite right was when it dawned upon me that this was in fact an invited event.... not one open to the public as I was initially lead to believe. Ye Gods, large and small, what was I to do? For I had been enthusiastically spreading the word and even gone to the extent of even offering to take someones off spring for the show!
A few rounds around the university grounds and a bit of linguistical leaping saw me past the security and inside the grounds that afternoon. Fortunately I came across a very understanding person from the organising committee who very graciously handed me the required number of complimentary tickets. That was about the height of the entire day.
Arriving that evening we were greeted by the sight of many sheds,chairs, Sri Lanka's own Police Band and two wicker baskets, forlornly sitting on the grass.
To cut a really awful story short, we were treated to a parade of people lead on to the field by six mounted policemen, a lot of drumming and dancing. The only thing to really reach the sky that evening were "1000's" of helium balloons, released to celebrate the festival. The 22 Hot Air ones were a no show.... way after the sun set there were some efforts to blow a couple of them up, but alas, vain indeed the efforts were for they soon collapsed like... well they collapsed.
It was about then that I decided to call it a day and go home. Another well thought of and badly executed effort.
Now what possibly could have been done was to have the balloons already up and tethered to the ground before the start.... but I guess brighter minds than mine were at work.
Its kind of sad, for this would certainly have been an impressive sight if executed as it should have been done. Why is it so difficult to plan and coordinate something like this? Why make such a dance about it and fall flat on our faces? All it really takes is a little effort, truly.