Hot-air balloons at dawn
How do you get a community of over 6,000 homes to talk to each other?
That was the question that must have faced the developers of my particular community some time ago. Given what happened this morning, I can only imagine that a huddle of men met around a conference table, coffees and sandwich platters in the middle, putting their minds to this very task.
“I know,” Mr Rajesh must have said, wiping the crumbs of a Russian salad sandwich from his bushy moustache and smacking his lips noisily. “We need to get them out of bed before dawn on a weekend. That’s great for community spirit. Hmm… let’s tell them it’s an emergency evacuation practice in case there’s a nuclear war with Iran. By the time they get to the airport, they’ll realise it was a hoax.”
“No, no. no,” I expect Mr Ibrahim then said, peering at Mr Rajesh over his coffee and feeling slightly nauseated at a speck of buttery bread that still flapped up and down on the other man’s moustache.
“No, no no. That’s just stupid. We must be more clever,” he continued. “We’ll tempt them out of bed with the promise of something so fantastic they won’t be able to resist. We’ll tell them there’s a classic car parade driving through the community at 7am… no, wait… I’ve got a better one. Listen to this. We’ll tell them there’s going to be a cluster of brightly coloured hot-air balloons landing inside the community just after dawn on a Friday morning. How fantastic is that? These expats, they can’t resist stuff like that. Trust me. They’ll be all over it like a rash. Then we’ll cancel the event, and that’ll foster a great community spirit as they all drive around looking for the balloons. Gentlemen – we have a plan.”
And the rest, as they say, is history. The property developer duly issued a letter to all householders promising that a cluster of brightly coloured balloons would land in the midst of their community at 6.30am and the community duly set its alarms for 6am and rocked up ready for the show.
Oh, how Mr Rajesh and Mr Ibrahim must have patted themselves on the back this morning when they saw all the four-wheel-drives backing out of driveways in the semi-darkness at 6.29am; the hopeful faces peering into the sky down by the community lake; the DSLR cameras trained on the horizon; strangers sharing tips with each other as they drove like headless chickens round the perimeter road and parked in lay-bys, hunting for hot-air balloons.
Community spirit, Mr Rajesh was delighted to note, was in full force.
But, just as Security admitted that the balloons wouldn’t be coming after all and despondent , pyjama-clad housewives turned their cars towards home, a string of hot-air balloons was sighted flying high above the desert.
They were indeed beautiful. Any landings inside the community were, however, fully unintentional.