My Jakarta: Tasa Nugraza Barley (The Jakarta Globe)
Posted May 27, 2009on:
Taken from The Jakarta Globe: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/city/my-jakarta-tasa-nugraza-barley/277333
Tasa Nugraza Barley has seen his fair share of the world from two polar opposites: Islamabad, Pakistan, and Washington, DC. After three years in Islamabad, where his father was a military attache, and 26 months in DC, where he received his MBA in finance from Strayer University, Tasa speaks of Jakarta as a city to which he longed to return. A city that, even with all its flaws, he will always call home. The 25-year-old ANZ Bank employee, who completed his undergraduate economics degree at Trisakti University, talks about terrorism, city planning and a host of other metropolitan issues in his own three-way comparison of Jakarta, Islamabad and Washington.
You’ve lived in Pakistan, a country marred by acts of terrorism. What did it feel like to live in such a dangerous country?
Well, at first I was pretty scared. But I managed to enjoy living there. Living in Islamabad was actually really fun as long as I knew where to go and how to behave. But I had to be alert all the time. I never went to so-called red zones by myself.
Do you think Jakarta has its own dangerous elements? Do you see this city as more secure than Islamabad?
I can’t say Jakarta is a very safe city. You always have to be inside a building. When you walk on the outskirts of the city, or use public transportation, there’s a risk of being the victim of a pickpocket or the possibility of being mugged. For girls, you can even be harassed or raped. But compared to Islamabad, I would say Jakarta is safer.
Which place do you like better, Pakistan or the United States?
That’s a tough question. Islamabad is actually a beautiful place to live. It’s different from other cities in Pakistan that are mostly unsafe and crowded. Islamabad is a well-planned city, not a naturally growing one. Everything is designed with that in mind.
But if I had to choose, DC is better. It has more to offer — it’s a beautiful city with thousands of parks and outdoor recreational spaces. It also has the largest museum complex in the world; something that I was really excited about. DC obviously has more modern attractions, too — when I was in Islamabad they didn’t have a modern movie theater.
What’s your favorite Pakistani food? What’s your favorite American food?
My favorite Pakistani food is chicken tikka. It’s a very tasty dish, very popular in Pakistan. It’s basically chicken roasted with special Pakistani ingredients.
It’s not easy to pick my favorite food from Washington, DC. The city offers different kinds of food from all over the world. But I really miss the hot dogs. The best place to grab a hot dog is at the National Monument.
Eating a hot dog while enjoying nice weather and beautiful scenery was one of the best things to do in DC. I guess there was nothing special about the hot dogs, but the surroundings made it perfect. But trust me, Indonesian food is still the best!
What didn’t you miss about Jakarta?
I bet you already know the answer: it’s the traffic! I can’t emphasize enough that our traffic is like hell. In Islamabad, the traffic was nothing compared to Jakarta’s. It’s not a populous city and very few people could afford personal transportation.
I believe the people of Jakarta are nice, but somehow the conditions in this city are so hectic that it makes us forget how to act like a civilized society.
What was it that you missed about home?
The people, the interesting places it offers, the amazing food — it’s Jakarta!
And I’m sure you’ll agree with the old phrase, “home sweet home.” No matter how dirty and messy your house is, you wouldn’t enjoy living in someone else’s house.
Would you ever consider leaving Jakarta on a permanent basis?
Actually, yes. I’m not trying to be inconsistent; I’m sure I’ll still love Jakarta in 50 years. But perhaps this is not the right place to live when I’m old. This city is the place for young and ambitious people.
When I’m old, I’d rather live somewhere quiet, in a small city where I can breathe fresh air anytime I want, where I can grow plants in the backyard. I know, that sounds so much like a 50-year-old guy’s dream.