Here’s a riddle for you:
How does a ride in a taxi in Lima take me down memory lane?
Let me explain.
Since I don’t drive anymore, I take a lot of taxis to get around in Lima. As I slide into the back seat of the cab, I often find myself enveloped in the sounds of my youth. Perhaps it is Paul Anka singing “Diana”. Or it may be one of my favorites, the Platters singing, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Of course, it is hard to escape the Beatles, and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
Hey, these were the songs that got my blood going in high school and college. Even now, many years later, these songs can stir my emotions. This is amazing, a totally unexpected benefit of living in Lima. Here I am, reliving the glories of my youth while rolling down the streets of my adopted city. All sorts of visions flash through my head.
Lima has lots of radio stations, but the taxi drivers seem to favor golden oldies in English. While some of the drivers are in my age bracket, most are much younger. Even so, they choose to listen to these stations all day as they do their work.
One thing is a little disturbing. The stations play the same music over and over. In the eight years that I have lived in Lima, I can’t recall any significant change in the repertoire of the station. Actually, it is too much of a good thing. I need a little variety—perhaps some Elvis Presley
Sometimes I like to sing along, and then I catch the taxi drivers looking at me anxiously from the rear view mirror and squirming in his seat. Either he is thinking I am crazy, or the quality of my singing makes him want to escape from the car to ease his pain. My previous experiences with singing would lead me to think that it is the latter—the excruciating sounds I am producing. I do notice that the taxi seems to speed up when I am singing.
I often tell my students that they can improve their English by singing along with a favorite song. This helps with pronunciation and the rhythm of the language.
I’ve haven’t done this yet, but I have thought that maybe I could give the taxi driver a free lesson. I could ask him to sing along with me as we go to my destination. It seems to me that listening to these songs all day, every day, for years, could open up the opportunity to learn some English. Also, it might be good for tourism. Visitors from English speaking countries might enjoy listening to taxi drivers who sing the golden oldies to them.
Just for the sake of variety, I have another taxi driver I call once in a while. Gino only listens to classical music. Sometimes I just like to relax with the music of my friend, Wolfgang Mozart.