coconut tree in the dark

i live under the umbrella
of a coconut tree
in the dark night
above i see …

i live under the umbrella
of a coconut tree
in the dark night
above i see

a shot i tried
to take for you
but the camera
did not see
what my eyes
and my heart
did see –
oh that unknown

so my love
come you too see
this spectacle
in udupi

but you must
in the dark
stand still
and also quiet be
late in the night
when everything
indeed does quiet be

then you touch
that which is
dark, rich and

the night and its
coconut tree

~ vani murarka

Resume Visualization

A company asked me recently to send them my updated resume.

I enjoy data visualization. Also, I am now trying to simplify my life towards essentials.
So this is what I came up with –

Click on the image for the full hyper-linked PDF version.

I like it for the following reasons:

  • It is one page and elegant.
  • The main information contained in any resume (the education and employment history) is presented as a data visualization. The information is arranged in a manner which visually facilitates the easy assimilation of the information, apart from explicitly reading the text. There are specific reasons why I like this data visualization which I will discuss below.
  • There is room for customization [such as the interests and skills], to tailor the content as per the intended audience.
  • It seems to be more in line with my personality, specially compared to my earlier run-of-the-mill resume.

    Now, a bit more regarding the visualization.

    Various forms of resume visualizations are there on the internet today. Below are some thumbnails. Click on them for the full view of these and other examples.

    In comparison to whichever resume visualization that I have seen on the internet so far, and independent of them too – these are the specific reasons why I like the one that I cooked up:

    • Bereft of excessive visual stimuli, it follows the KISS principle. Thus the objective of a more effective communication does not lose out against the agenda to impress. Infact it is so simple that it may hardly seem like a data visualization, but it is. The layout in fact is essentially the same as the left side of the first thumbnail [if you click it and see its full view]. However, it seems to me that, being visually simpler and more in line with conventional writing of text, makes this layout easier to assimilate.
    • The spatial and color coded arrangement of information has the following impact
      • gaps in education or employment are highlighted
      • relative time spent at each engagement is more clearly apparent.
      • provides space to write about each engagement in keeping with the amount of time spent at that engagement. Thus it encourages one to keep things brief.
      • enables one to see simultaneous engagements. Normally these are listed separately in resumes.
    • Gaps in history and relative time spent in engagements are derived information from resumes that HR specially looks out for. I suppose people in HR become adept at mentally identifying these when they glance through resumes. Such a layout would facilitate things for them.
    • The information that the visualization highlights would be largely apparent even in smaller thumbnail-type versions. Two examples are given below.
    • Lastly, it is made using MS Excel. So anyone can make a similar one using any spreadsheet software. No special visualization tool is required.

    The layout can be tailored to specific individual trajectories and on the choices made of what one wants to highlight. Here are some possibilities:

    • Many people first finish their official education which is followed only by work life. In such a case, a long empty left column may be a waste of space. One can either then keep the learning and working entries in the same column, with different color coding, or use the learning [education] column to mention other professional trainings, certifications, workshops during one’s work life, that the individual may want to highlight.
    • Two ways come to mind for including awards and recognitions.
      • By including an icon [like a star] and relevant text, in the box of the relevant engagement. In this case however, there may not be enough space for mentioning the award/recognition completely, or against the correct year.
      • If learning and working are merged into one column, with different color coding, then space is available for a separate awards and recognition column.

    I offer this layout to you dear reader, in case you want to use in your own resume or in your organization.

  • evaluate not your life

    evaluate not
    your life,
    per perceived norms.
    there are many stories
    you know not …

    evaluate not
    your life,
    per perceived norms.
    there are many stories
    you know not.

    no scale is there
    to measure
    your life against.
    a wild flower
    as many in the unseen woods,
    or unique –
    what you are,
    you know not.
    it matters not.

    evaluate not, your life.
    embrace it.
    it is yours.
    yours truly.

    ~ vani murarka

    to my family

    The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. ~ Richard Bach

    gratitude overflows
    from my eyes

    take me to your feet
    that i may …

    The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. ~ Richard Bach

    gratitude overflows
    from my eyes

    take me to your feet
    that i may
    speak to you,

    far from you
    my heart lies,
    and broken

    yet with me, you are
    you say
    every moment,

    in the sorrow in the joy
    my friend you are
    my family

    and the truth
    in my heart
    remains unspoken

    yet you know, and i know
    and we reach
    across to us

    and the bond that seemed
    sown again,

    ~ vani murarka

    florence nightingale: an inspiration for art

    In my last post, I shared with you this painting of mine and said that it took shape by itself as I let my hand move any which ways it felt like.

    Its a rather unusual shape for a tree, isn’t it? As it took shape, I realized it was a sub-conscious inspiration from Florence Nightingale.

    How so?

    Florence Nightingale was one of the pioneers of Data Visualization – of presenting statistics as images to make a point emphatically. She collected meticulous data on the cause of soldiers’ death during the Crimean War and created this visualization below. This was way back in 1854! Blue indicates death due to preventable causes, mainly lack of hygiene. Red indicates death due to wounds in war. Black indicates other causes such as accidents.

    This image taken from GuideStar International’s Blog.

    Thus via this data visualization she clearly showed that the majority of the deaths that were occurring seemingly due to war were actually totally preventable by practice of better hygiene. This made a persuasive impact on the British government of that time. It laid the foundation of incorporating hygiene as an intrinsic policy in hospitals. Here is a lovely short video on this topic, which tells us more about this somewhat less known aspect of Florence Nightingale.

    The painting above was made during the days when I was a student of Data Visualization at the university. Regarded as a classic and pioneering example of the efficacy of data visualization, this image of Florence Nightingale’s work came up often in stuff that I read and talks that I attended. Not surprising that it meandered into a painting one day.

    So what is the point of this post? It is this.

    The way art takes shape when I just let it flow – at times it feels divine. The myriad ways in which what I see and encounter in life has an impact on me is fascinating. The impact is many a times not in a manner and direction that one would conventionally expect. That itself makes life so much more richer.

    ~ vani murarka

    The Vocal Tribe Of Trees

    When I paint or draw I mostly just let my hand move any which way it wishes to go. It is a discovery for me to see what is emerging. That is what happened with this painting too.

    Once this painting was done, it seemed to me as if the tree, as a representative of the World-Wide Tribe of Trees is calling out and saying, “Hear me too! Hear me too!”

    Trees are very very vocal. Only, their language is the language of silence.

    Sitting quietly beside trees, one can’t miss their banter. Listening to them intently and softly with your eyes, is so so … There. There is no word for it. 🙂

    I love listening to trees. It nourishes my soul.

    Listening to the language of trees takes me to a different world. A world that is also very real and exists everywhere; outside me and inside me. A world which in its silence, holds profound comfort and wisdom.

    Listen, listen, O World. Listen to The Trees!

    ~ vani murarka

    a gift to myself

    There is a beautiful green meadow. Lush green rolling hills.

    A mountain stream is gurgling by. Crystal clear water. Interspersed here and there are stones on which the water rises and falls and makes beautiful music. The water is so lovingly sharp to touch and elixir to the throat.

    I am dancing, roaming on those hills, wearing a beautiful, very generously frilly white dress with large purple flowers.

    My arms are spread out, head raised. I fill my lungs and my being with the air that is alive. The breeze caresses my cheek, then runs away, like a rabbit. Then it gets naughty. Entering my dress from underneath, it fluffs up my dress and tickles my legs. I laugh out loud and push my dress down and then dance around.

    There, near the stream are soft yellow flowers. I sit beside them and gaze for long at the texture of their petals, caressing them with my eyes. The wind is playing music too. The clouds embrace the top of the hills.

    I lie on my back and look at the blue ceiling above. Infinite in expanse. Infinite in depth. Two small bird friends fly by chattering, high up above.

    My body is on the grass, my heart is in the sky and I am in every fiber of the hills, every blade of grass, the earth, the water, the stones, the flowers, the clouds, the birds, the air, the infinite expanse – dancing and invisible.

    ~ vani murarka

    fallen warrior of relationships

    meet the world then
    shining again –
    grand warrior of
    love sword hanging
    from the hip.
    arrows of kindness
    and compassion,
    shield of detachment …

    he said this and she said that –
    many forms of verbal attack.

    all i want to know is –
    how to dodge?
    to hit back? no.
    take the slap? no.
    all i want to know
    is how to dodge?

    to dance and dodge
    to skip and dodge
    to laugh and dodge
    all i want to know is
    how to dodge?

    and what of arrows
    lodged inside
    deep in the past?
    how do i pull out n cast
    them all aside?
    not fester ignorant into
    blisters that erupt suddenly
    burn me n friends n family …

    bent no more,
    not even sore,
    meet the world then
    shining again –
    grand warrior of
    love sword hanging
    from the hip.
    arrows of kindness
    and compassion,
    shield of detachment …

    but all these are
    just ideals now.
    a battered self
    i am right now.
    in defense i shout,
    return attack.
    or silently pout,
    internal whack.

    yet where to head out,
    i now do know.
    but reach there how?
    i do not know.
    many pointers the
    teachers show.

    i will try a few
    something will ensue.
    to a new land now i go –
    for no one and to
    nothing show.

    only that i may
    meet you anew,
    my bond with you
    i may renew.

    as i find me
    i shall find thee,
    this is not simply
    a theory.

    as truth i sense this
    in my heart –
    so stand again,
    again i start.

    ~ vani murarka

    Of Languages, Animals and the Kitchen

    a light-hearted take on the visual character of programming languages …

    One of the things that I like about computer programming is to simply just look at the code. To see just what it looks like visually …

    a light-hearted take on the visual character of programming languages …

    One of the things that I like about computer programming is to simply just look at the code. To see just what it looks like visually. No, I am not talking of software visualization, though I enjoy that too.

    When I started programming, every once in a while I used to pause and just see the code, simply for its visual appeal. It was text composed of the same characters that I had learnt since childhood, but looked so different. I did not think of it like that then. Now while writing, I realize that that might be one of the logical sources of my fascination.

    As I discovered programming I wanted to share this wonderful new discovery with others in my life. When I showed my working program to them, I used to want to show the code too. It was so amazing! See, this is what results in this kind of a screen and functionality. It was like seeing the beautiful intricate inner arteries of a body. What an incredible transformation if you considered what the source and result looked like.

    It took no time to notice that people were not interested in inner arteries. The text was too weird to them and they failed to see the fascinating visual beauty of the code. Possibly, seeing the same characters they knew for years looking so foreign was too unsettling. After all, it is not like seeing Spanish for example. The same letters but the words do not make sense. Yet, the words still look like words and the sentences still look like sentences. That is not how it is when looking at a computer program code.

    The way different programming languages look visually, makes me liken them to animals. Their visual look itself lends a character to them and evokes a certain kind of unique feeling-environment when working in a particular programming language.

    In my first job in the computing world, my first project assignment was as a maintenance and documentation person in a COBOL project. I spent the whole day looking at screens that looked like this.

    COBOL code sample. Image source: Jeff Whelpley’s Tech Blog

    The whole screen almost completely filled with text. Everything in caps. Aligned vertically. There was no color-coding in those days. Bright green screen, white text, that’s it. It looked so different from C/C++, which was the main language I had learnt in training.

    As I looked at the COBOL screen day after day it seemed like an elephant to me. The heavy (caps) text vertically aligned seemed like the thick legs of the elephant. It seemed so excessively verbose too. The whole program felt visually heavy, like an elephant.

    Looking at C instead was such a stark contrast. So breezy and airy with lots and lots of “whitespace”. The “{“s and “;”s here and there looked like beautiful feathers. The indentations of “if-else”s, “for”s and “while”s seemed like dance steps. C/C++ looked like a peacock to me.

    c code
    C code sample. This code is a token in honor of Dennis Ritchie, the father of the C programming language, written upon his death. Sorry, I lost the image source!

    Good old Assembly Language looks like a snake with its narrow vertical structure. Just the long long list of opcodes and operands. And just as tricky as a cobra mind you!

    assembly language code
    Assembly Language code sample. Image source: here

    These days all my programming time is spent working in Javascript. So what does Javascript look like to me?

    Well when one first starts with Javascript one uses it to do nifty little things on a webpage. Invariably the Javascript code is mixed with HTML. That frankly does not look anything elegant to me. COBOL, even with its heavy look had its own kind of elegance to it. If I had to choose an animal for a code file comprising of Javascript and HTML mixed together, I would choose an ostrich. But come on, an ostrich is appealing. I find nothing aesthetically appealing about Javascript mixed with HTML (or PHP mixed with HTML for that matter). It looks like a cluttered unkempt kitchen to me!

    The HTML tags (or XML tags, or SVG tags, for that matter) look like ugly kitchen jars (the kind that I would never buy if I saw them at Ikea) and the rest of the code is all other kitchen stuff strewn all about. Utensils, vegetable peelings, cleaning rags, what have you.

    Yes when one is doing somewhat more hard-core Javascript programming one creates code files that are only Javascript. That is beautiful. More so when rendered with the beautiful color coding of Sublime Text. This, here, I would say, looks like a gorgeous parakeet.

    javascript code sample
    Javascript code sample from my computer.

    That is why I would any day generate SVG via D3, rather than write SVG itself!

    ~ vani murarka