Monday, May 15, 2006
Demos, rainmakers, and unnatural phenomena
There have been a bunch of demonstrations in Jakarta lately against some proposed changes to the labor laws. At first the demos were kind of fun, because they shut down the megahighway near our house and I got to walk around on it. But the protesters quickly strained my patience by leaving trash everywhere, mindlessly damaging trees, and worst of all, burning tires! In a city where the air contains quite enough petroleum byproducts!
The best part of the story, though, is the rain. One of the biggest demos was on a blistering hot day. Then in the afternoon a really intense thunderstorm came through. Afterwards the city felt really cool and fresh. Everyone was talking about how clean the air was. "Magic rain," said our landlord.
Magic, indeed. The next day, The Jakarta Post quoted an anonymous source in the Vice President's office saying the government had hired about 60 spiritualists to bring down the rain and stop the demo. The VP later had to deny it at a press conference. They allegedly paid these rainmakers about $120 each. If so, they got their money's worth.
As I recall, the Soviet Union tried something like this in the 80's, except they used airplanes to try to seed the clouds. Maybe they should have called in some old Javanese guys with special powers.