Indonesia: Pat Walsh’s ‘Stormy with a Chance of Fried Rice, 12 Months in Jakarta’

Book Review

Pat Walsh spends 12 months in Jakarta editing a truth commission report on Timor Leste. “Stormy With A Chance of Fried Rice” is an account of the lighter side of the Australian editor’s stay in the Indonesian capital.

Book launches are an important element of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which takes place every fall on the Indonesian island of Bali. “Stormy With A Chance Of Fried Rice” was launched at the 2015 edition of the festival. My review of the book follows.

“Stormy With A Chance Of Fried Rice“, 12 Months in Jakarta” was launched at Nomad on 28 October 2015 at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Unfortunately, I didn’t attend the book’s launch, but I was fortunate enough to be attracted by the book’s cover at one of the spots selling books at the festival.

The book was written by Australian author Pat Walsh, who was commissioned to edit “Chega!”, a heart-wrenching human rights report on Timor Leste.

Every Day Encounters

The book chronicles Pat’s touching, amusing, and insightful every day encounters with every day Indonesians doing every day things during the 12 months he spends editing the report in Jakarta.

As a journalist and once editor, I can identify with Pat as he struggles with punctuation, spelling, usage, consistency, and capitalization (is that capitalization with a Z or capitalisation with an S)?

Pat touches on the virtues and perils of Indonesian toilets, the future of Old Jakarta, and Indonesian street food (when in doubt, order nasi goreng, a.k.a Indonesian fried rice).

Many of the chapters in “Stormy with a Chance of Fried Rice” are humorous – dealing with immigration officials, having a cream bath (WTF is a “cream bath”), crossing the street in Jakarta (if you’ve never been to the Indonesian capital, you might not understand).

A few of the vignettes, however, are serious, such as the final chapter on Reading the Koran.

I read “Stormy With A Chance Of Fried Rice” just before the terrorist attacks in Paris, and the book’s final chapter did help put things in perspective.

“Stormy with a Chance of Fried Rice” made the perfect travelling companion. Since most of the book’s chapters are 3 to 6 pages – I could complete one over breakfast, another over lunch, another while waiting for a friend to arrive arrive for cocktails.

Book Launch Venue

Nomad was one of several restaurants hosting events at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

I had lunch at the restaurant with a friend on a previous trip to Bali 18 months earlier.


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