Monday, March 19, 2018

Green Then

‘How green was my Valley then, and the Valley of them that have gone.’ This line is from a 1939 novel by Richard Llewellyn, born of his conversations with local mining families in Gilfach Goch, South Wales. It was made into an Oscar award winning film that chronicles the loss of a way of life due to coal mining and its effects on the family.

The story is universal and true even today… the devastation of livelihoods and dependency on the vagaries of exploitative jobs… the destruction of ecology and the degradation of the quality of life… the complicity of the authorities and irresponsible illegalities by the raiders of the earth…

But most pertinent is the insulated indifference of those at distances, who love the green valley but will do nothing to keep it so. We lament that the valley is green no more but refuse to stand in solidarity with those who endure in traditional livelihoods. We take up cudgels for the mining dependents (who deserve concern) but we ignore those affected (uprooted) by the quarrying.

Eventually we must quit the whine song about a green valley gone. We must involve and support ways to keep it green or revive it. We must ponder over our contribution and choices now! The valley was green then because someone kept it or made it that way. We must maintain what we can and restore what we failed to maintain.

The green then was born of efforts of those who involved in sustainable livelihoods and others who recognised and supported them. The quality of life came from those who believed in collecting fruit that fell off trees, instead of felling trees to pluck the fruit. The green then was nurtured by a responsible and responsive approach. Now it requires similar actions to ensure that the valley remains green for the future.

Green then was our valley catering to real need
Green now it can be if we halt our hurried greed!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, March 12, 2018

Reason to write

A series of postal letters (penned for a TV show) turned into a bestseller book. It inspired so many to involve in the experience of writing and reading. Poet, lyricist and scriptwriter, Arvind Jagtap’s book is titled ‘Patras Karaan Ki’ – a line in Marathi that most letters start with. It literally means ‘the reason to write this letter is…’

Arvind’s letters are engaging due to the expression of pertinent social issues. He is not just a creative writer but a proactive responsive citizen as well. Arvind does not just write lines worth reading. His words are born of his walk… he involves in apt actions to positively impact the situation around him. It is indeed a lofty ‘reason to write’!

There are many reasons to write. Firstly it is better than speaking for various ‘ins and outs’. Writing is born of considered thinking while speaking is often spontaneous. We can edit our written words as we have the opportunity to view our expression and measure whether it matches with intent.

The written words can be treasured. Typed letters and hand written cards are more likely to be retained as nostalgic possessions compared to what one may have heard. Writing can easily turn into a dialogue that continues and when it does, the bearing is better on communication between the persons involved.

Most importantly, the written word is about ownership. We cannot deny what we wrote. We may clarify, retract or explain. But we cannot give up ownership of our expression. Hence, we are consciously careful about the choice of words while writing. It is pertinent to note that the best of speeches are written before they are delivered.

We must write to communicate to persons we interact with to articulate our thinking, aspirations and emotions. We must also write to unveil our inner thoughts first to ourselves and then to others. Writing is liberation of expression. There are many reasons to write. We must find one but write to reason (not without thinking)!

Find reason to write… but write to reason
Writing is best expression in every season

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, February 26, 2018

Que Sera Sera

On Saturday I watched the film ‘K Sera Sera’ once again. Produced by Rajesh Pednekar and directed by Rajeev Shinde, two long-time collaborators in creativity, the Konkani film has brought together the country’s best technicians, a well written screenplay and a marvellous ensemble cast led by Palomi Ghosh and Pednekar. It presents two stories that explore the theme of ‘whatever will be, will be’.

‘Que Sera Sera’ has been a popular song, written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, in the 1956 Hitchcock film ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’, starring Doris Day and James Stewart. The Spanish words point out that some things are beyond our control. The deeper meaning is to accept that we cannot change everything we wish to.

The message is to choose to accept. It is a philosophy that life rolls on, moving from highs to lows. We must move beyond wanting to change everything. Of course, we must change the things we can. We must put efforts in changing things we feel we should. But if can’t change them, we must not fret and sweat.

This does not mean we should retreat to escapism or pessimism. It is not about giving up. It is about avoiding the needless burden of onus on self for things that don’t go your way. It is about pointless worries for the future. It is about over emphasis on insisting that efforts must lead to only desirable outcomes.

When we are stressed out by disproportionate suspicions about eventualities or unnecessary uncertainties, we must choose to see the positive philosophy of ‘Que Sera Sera’. It gives us the strength to face accidents like the passing away of a dear one, the failure despite the best efforts, the fears of the unknown future.

Future haunts when worries we nourish…
‘que sera sera’ allows positive to flourish!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ready to Play

The phrase ‘Lead, follow or get out of the way’ is inconclusively attributed to Thomas Paine and many others. It appealed to me and resulted in many activity sets in my training programs. However, the third part was understood by me as different from the obvious meaning to ‘keep out of the way’.

Consider the analogy of a football team. The player with the ball is the ‘lead’ of the moment. The remaining players are meant to ‘follow’. So who would be ‘Get out of the way’? Referee? No! Coach? No! Audience? No!

Then, who? It is the players on the bench!!!

The reserve players are not playing. They are neither leading nor following. But they have to be ready to play! They have to be fully aligned to the flow of the game and be in position, to use it, if called to join play. All though not in the playing team, their focus and zeal cannot be lesser than the ones on the playing field.

It is said that teams in sports are as good as their bench strength. A high premium is placed on players who are ‘ready to play’. It is no mean task to have the tolerance to ‘actively’ wait as well as cheer on the players who are playing on the field. They display the right team spirit of supporting, observing and being ready to play!

So often, so many of us yearn for the main role (lead) or the supporting one (follow). However teams are empowered by the ones who are ‘ready to play’… by the ones who are not weighed done by the ‘waiting’… by those who ‘stay out of the way’ but stay close to the playing arena… with preparedness to play… and play to win!

The ones on the bench show the way
To ‘actively’ wait and be ready to play!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, February 12, 2018


The trainer was addressing his learners, ‘we update our mobiles and computers… we upgrade various appliances and machines that we use… we update our status on social media… we modernize our furniture and clothes… we tend to update everything that we use… but do we update our learning?’

A voice, from the back rows, queried, ‘Do you?’

So often, persons from my tribe (of trainers, teachers, educators), preach something that we may not be practising. Among such gaps in the ‘walk-talk’ is the tendency to insist that the learners should learn and yet we may not involve in the learning process to update our knowledge, skills and attitude.

We will not handover repairs to a mechanic who is not updated with the latest developments regarding the machine. We prefer professionals who keep updating and upgrading their know-hows and skills. Sportspersons keep trying to learn newer and better ways of playing the sport. The one who knows is the one who grows!

We must update our competencies and capabilities. As seniors, we recommend it to our juniors. As parents, we insist that our children do it. As preachers, we expect our followers to practise it. But it is pertinent to be able to affirmatively answer the question posed to us by our children, learners or juniors, ‘Do you update?’

Don’t be smug with competence of the past
Those who update are the ones who will last!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ink it

In Std IX, we encountered Professor JAM (short for J.A. Menezes) who welcomed us to play with maths. He threw us a mental challenge in form of a series of puzzles. As we tried to solve it in our minds, he urged us, ‘don’t think it… Ink it!’ We opened our notebooks and put pen to paper… put our thoughts to the sight board.

Last Friday, our popular and effective teacher passed away. But his many lessons live on. It includes the above quote by Mark Victor Hansen which he promoted as the right way to think. It was beyond mathematics and turned out to be the best lesson for life. The best way to see our thoughts is to write them down.

There are many ways to ink it. Besides using pen, we can use pencils or colours. We can use chalk on slate. We can inscribe on sand with a stick. We can scribble on a wet surface. We use things like twigs and sticks to make various formations. We can shape out or carve in clay. Nowadays we can write on touchscreens.

When we ‘ink’ our thoughts they come in sight in a greater visual perspective. We can add or detract effortlessly. We can change or develop them better. We can reorganise and rearrange the thoughts. We can create strategies. We can define purposes. We can outline plans of action.

When we ‘ink it’ we are better placed for immediate exertion as well as a recall tool for the future. When we face with our own thoughts, we see them for what they really are. Writing down Professor JAM’s various quotes made for deeper insights every time I looked at them. They remain as memorable and meaningful as he was!

The thought in our mind needs exposure
‘Ink it’ for deeper insights and disclosure!

~ Pravin Sabnis

Monday, January 29, 2018


In football, the player who successfully scores a goal rarely waits for validation. He breaks into a celebration run, happily punching the air, screaming out his lungs, stretching his smile and doing the victory dance. He does not wait for appreciation from others. He chooses to bask in his own appreciation.

But my friend was not so. He played many parts: educationist, actor, singer, musician, humourist and above all an appreciator. He would be quick to appreciate the slightest of good in others. But he denied it to himself. He was always tough on himself. He was forever sacrificing for others till he sacrificed his life many years ago.

Every time, he comes to mind, he brings along a wistful emotion… of a sad life that sought happiness for others... of a giver who gave abundantly and received frugally… and the prime perpetrator was he! He did not gift himself the attitude of his appreciation. He gave others coloured clothes but wore white and black.

Our attitude is a product of experiences in our impressionable age. Negative conditioning often leads to denial of the self. William James said that the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. But when we deny ourselves the appreciation that we deserve, we mire ourselves in unhappiness.

My friend knew his many talents and capacities. Yet he denied himself the appreciation that he would so easily offer to others. If only, he had celebrated his amazing performances like the football player after netting the goal, maybe his life would have been happier. May he would have been alive for his birthday tomorrow!

Each needs appreciation for happiness to be…
Why wait for others when it can start with me?

~ Pravin Sabnis