Wednesday, January 2, 2013


It rained hard, very hard, on Friday in the middle of December. It was one of those rare times in Jakarta when the rain flew horizontally instead of vertically.  The lightning and thunder were so bright and loud they set all the car alarms off in unison.

It also rained hard on Sunday, but not as hard as Friday.  Sunday was a gloomy grey sky spilling its unstable bowel in distracted drizzles. It lasted all day like a marathon pisser, muddying the streets therefore slowing the cars therefore jamming the city.

But the point is that in between Friday and Sunday, which is Saturday, my wedding day, the sun shined very very bright.  This, too, lasted all day without so much as a drop of rain or a hint of cloud.

After attempting to avoid the boring trap of just gushingly "absorbing the meaning of it" (i.e. it's a good omen, etc.) and then pondering the numerous reasonable, scientific, or supernatural possibilities of how this could be, we came up with the most economic explanation.

You see, there was another wedding in the same building happening that night, except theirs was outdoors, in the pool area.  From the looks of it, it was the kind of wedding featuring white pigeons and red roses and a white pouffy ballgown wedding dress and a groom's outfit so dapper and elaborate it was bordering on fabulously gay. I wouldn't put it beyond them to make every effort possible to ensure their pretty ensemble is not rained down on.

By social standards the most reasonable way to do this is to hire a pawang hujan, which I have been utterly incapable of finding a translation for other than maybe rain-doctor or rain-unmaker (a pun on the term "rainmaker" obviously, but having said that I've decided against using the pun because it refers to something unrelated to rain, whereas what we are discussing here is entirely on the subject of rain).

So, rain-doctor.

I recently found out there are two types of rain-doctor package deals available on the market.  First, you pay premium (something like twice the normal price) but get your money back if it does rain.  Second, you pay a cheaper price but don't get your money back if it rains. Given that the cheaper package would likely be an incentive for fake rain-doctors to proliferate (hypothetically assuming that there are "real" ones), if I were a customer I would pay premium.

I imagine the rain-doctor then checks the weather forecast first. Because obviously, if it is not going to rain, then he can just spend the day sleeping.  If the forecast is rainy, he then proceeds to prevent it from raining.

This is amazing stuff. In all the text books, summoning weather (or dismissing it) is a godly power. And yet here they are, rain gods for hire. With two packages available, and maybe even a discount in the dry season. But wait, it is a little less exciting actually.  Rain-doctors, not being gods, do not make the rain cancel its plans: they simply move it to another place or delay it. Ah. Mortals.

No one knows exactly how it is done, and perhaps if you are a customer you may not want to know what you paid them to do as long as it is done. Other high-end venues have cloud-dispersion lasers (I imagine they can also double as disco lights), akin to high-powered water-jets used to disperse labor demonstrations, or other similar party-pooper technology.  But rain-doctors don't use technology.  They push sticks in the ground and mutter chants and that's basically it.

Whatever the method, one thing for sure is that it is not cheap, hiring rain-doctor services.  Unless you're free-riding on someone else's party rain-doctor.