The American South: DO NOT SAY Namaste

All y’all who don’t live down here may be unaware of this political fight.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers might lift a decades old ban on yoga in public schools, though the bill would keep the greeting “namaste” on the forbidden list.

A bill by Rep. Jeremy Gray of Opelika would let local school systems decide if they want to teach yoga, poses and stretches. However it would require the moves to have exclusively English names.

It would also prohibit the use of chanting, mantras and saying the greeting “namaste.”

Read all about it.

Eradicating Malaria while Buddhist

Here is an anecdote from my first book, Common Sense and Whiskey, about a stay in Thimpu, the capital of the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan:

“Stray dogs (I think about eight billion) gave a free, full-throated concert most nights. Strays are the bane of Bhutan, just like in Kathmandu and Rangoon and Tahiti.

Being Buddhist, the Bhutanese have a little problem. They can’t kill the strays, can’t even spay them. That would be taking a life. But they can appoint Indian Hindus as dog catchers, and have them kill dogs on the pretense of rabies or rash.”

And here is a story from the BBC about another Buddhist conundrum, the problem of wiping out malaria in a land where “killing any life form, even a disease-carrying mosquito,” is not okay. A quote:

“One interesting challenge in Bhutan was the Buddhist aversion, in this deeply religious country, to killing any life form, even a disease-carrying mosquito. Thus the officials spraying buildings with insecticide had to reframe this practice. Rinzin Namgay, Bhutan’s first entomologist, laughs when he remembers that they would tell anxious homeowners during IRS: ‘We’re just spraying the house. If a mosquito wants to commit suicide by coming in, let it.’”

Friday Photo #19, Prayer Flags in Sikkim, India


This photo comes from a December, 2013 visit to Gangtok, Sikkim, India, on the Chinese border. Specifically, it’s from a day trip out to Changu (Tsomgo) Lake. Because of the terrain, the nearest airport to Gangtok is several hours drive away. Here is what I wrote at the time about getting to Sikkim. There are more photos from in and around Gangtok in the India Gallery at

And see all the other Friday Photos.