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July 10, 2020

The Life Lesson I learned from a Bad*ss Rooster.

I recently did a Deepak Chopra meditation exercise in which I had to write a list of 50 people who have inspired me throughout my life.

As I wrote names down, I thought, “But can I add an inspirational non-human creature to that list?” As I couldn’t check with Deepak directly (he’s a busy guy), I decided to bend the rules a little and add a deeply inspiring fellow that once crossed my path. I don’t know if he has a name, so I refer to him as “The Rooster Boss.”

He is the one refusing to pose with me in the above picture. Believe me when I say that he does as he feels and takes sh*t from no one.

Here is how our meeting came to happen.

It was August 2013. I was traveling in the western part of rural Nepal with my Polish-Australian boyfriend. We hopped from one remote village to another on our motorbike, chasing wondrous adventures. We went from a safari in the Jungle of Chitwan to living at an Osho meditation center where we played soccer with little monks. We had a splendid time.

One morning, we had set off early with no fixed destination. Our only plan was to drive until a place drew us in enough to make a stop.

Shortly after we hit the road, we got caught in a threatening rainstorm. It quickly became unsafe on the serpentine, rocky, muddy roads, so we made the decision to stop at the next village.

A few kilometers down the road, we found an uneventful town to stay in for the rest of the day and rented a modest but comfortable room consisting of only a single bed and a tiny balcony overlooking the main street. Two chairs that had lived longer than I sat upon the balcony.

After we both took a semi-burning, semi-freezing temperamental shower, we sat, fuming teacups in hand, on the elderly chairs to indulge in one of my favorite activities: people-watching.

It was a poor suburb. A young and petite woman carried a basket attached to her forehead, filled with wood that likely weighed as much as she did. Brightly smiling, colorfully dressed people walked around, chit-chatting with one another, often holding hands in amicable ways.

Two packs of street dogs roamed the street and got into a nearly deadly fight over a fancy piece of garbage that one had discovered. A few kids had a blast squeezing into an old car tire, while their friends rolled them around until they were too dizzy to stand squarely on their feet.

This place was filled with life, and yet surprisingly peaceful.

On the bustling sidewalk, a few doors down from where we were hanging out, a medium-sized white rooster walked out of the front door of a house.

How common is it to have a chicken inside your house in Nepal? Was he meant for dinner and this was his attempt to escape?

He didn’t seem in a hurry, so I dropped the idea that he was running for his life. He stretched extensively and began wandering around, scanning the ground for pieces of edible things to swallow, in typical poultry fashion.

After a few minutes, the rooster started to show some alluring aspects of his personality.

The first thing I noticed was how protective he was of the area surrounding the door. Granted, all roosters are territorial by nature. As polygamous beings, they often need to guard several nests of eggs and their many hens.

Guarding the door and the three meter area around it, nothing, and no one was to invade his self-proclaimed front yard.

He was standing proud and imposing, patrolling the perimeter. You could tell he was sharper than the average rooster by the earnestness of his mission and the decisiveness of his step. About a block away, a man, rightfully walking on the sidewalk, approached the forbidden area.

Not even one step in, he was savagely charged by the eight-pound bird.

Boss screamed nasty insults at this man and it quickly became a dramatic scene. While most people ignored the commotion, Daniel and I cracked up laughing in our seats. This was a bold and hilarious creature—and the drama went on for over an hour.

He chased everything and anything—a pigeon, a goat, cats, a paper bag floating its way (smart, but still a rooster). He went after people, women and children included. He had no mercy.

To my surprise, no one went after him, nor stood up for themselves. He somehow commanded respect and inspired fear. He, without a doubt, was the king of his island.

We were both sitting on the very edge of our seats, waiting restlessly for his next move. Such a deep and long laughter had left my belly only once before when I had eaten two liters of Oreo ice cream for breakfast, just to win a dare.

I do not regret many things in life. No, wait! Actually, this is a straight-up lie. I do have some regrets: every time I treated someone I loved poorly, that short, boyish haircut I chose on my own accord when I was 13 years old, sleeping with that guy when I was intoxicated, and wearing matching socks to fit in at university when it went against my personal sense of style. And to this list, I will add not filming this rooster in action.

After terrorizing the neighborhood for a while, a massive and scary looking dog spotted Boss from a distance.

“Oh, that may be the one that brings him down,” I whispered to Dan, a little concerned.

The dog approached the scene carefully. We could feel the tense, Wild West duel energy building up between the two of them. The food merchant on the street corner also looked at the upcoming battle with great interest and amusement.

The stray dog, choosing an intimidating tactic, charged at Boss, barking avidly.

The Boss again stood his ground in his little square space, not showing any sign of fear or weakness. Seconds before the dog entered his territory, Boss spread his wings to full capacity and jumped on the dog, pecking at its face!

The dog was not prepared for such a move.

Like a coward, he turned around and ran off weeping. On the pathway in front of us was a metal grid with a stream of water flowing below it. The dog had to take a large jump over it to not get its paws stuck inside of it.

And then, for the first time that day, Boss left his property and went after the ginormous, furry beast. He ran full speed on his tiny, awkward legs and hovered graciously above the trap.

Dan, the merchant, and I all crumbled into tears. This is when a young guy came out of the notorious door.

“Are you looking for your rooster?” we yelled from the porch.

“Yes, it’s my pet, have you seen it?”

“It chased a massive dog, it went that way just seconds ago,” we explained.

The guy came back a few minutes later, carrying his docile feathered pal under his arm. “Hey, excuse me, can I come and meet him? He is such a legend!” I asked the owner. “Yes, sure, wanna hold him?”

Needless to say, I accepted the offer in complete delight. “This is one rebel bird you got there,” I claimed. “Yeah, everyone knows about him here. He makes the rules on this street. Some people have a guard dog; me, I have this rooster,” he answered, pleased and smiling.

And this is how The Boss made it onto my list of the 50 most inspirational people in my life.

See, he didn’t care that he was “just” a rooster, that most of those he went after were bigger in size—certainly stronger and, for the most part, with a higher IQ.

He did not let any of these details stop or limit him. He believed in himself and his guarding duty with absolute conviction. Such self-confidence, audacity, bravery, and determination—a kind I have seen in very few before.

To this day, when I have a moment of self-doubt, and I find myself in need of swift inspiration, I remember Boss’ assertiveness and bad*ss attitude on that special day in Nepal.

Because of it, he had won a place of honor inside a cushy house as a beloved companion instead of meeting the traditional Nepalese fate of a rooster, which is sitting steamy and still alongside a pile of rice on a Sunday platter.

Dear reader, if you loved this tale, you’ll adore this gem: Mothers, Let your Daughters Grow Up to be Travellers.

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