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Your own…personal…taxista…

I have a regular taxista who I call to get a ride home on days that I work out of the office. Her name is Guadalupe, and she is a lovely, middle-aged Mexican with a son who lives in Cancun. She became my go-to taxista after I broke up with my prior taxista, Carlos, when he stopped answering my calls. (what is this, “he’s just not that into you”, taxi-style???)  Anyway, Guadalupe and I get along well because she a) is nice and amusing but doesn’t take any crap from anyone, b) doesn’t drive like a crazy person, and c) has a car with enough leg room for me and no funny-scented air fresheners. Our conversations are generally fairly smooth because I can practice my Spanish and at times, she her English, so we usually can figure things out between the two of us.

So today, Guadalupe & I were driving home when she suddenly remembered something to ask me. (below conversation all in Spanish)

G: “Oh! I have something I need help on from an English speaker and you speak English. Obviously!!
J: “Uh, yes…?”
G: “I have a song that I really like, but I don’t know what it means. Maybe if I play it for you, you can tell me what it is about?”  [proceeds to roll up car windows to create the proper listening environment] “Maybe you have heard it?”
J: [now filled with curiosity of what this magical song could possibly be] “Of course! Or at least I will try!”

G: [proceeds to carefully select song from CD player]

Classic hits of Mexico...thank you Depeche Mode

Classic hits of Mexico...thank you Depeche Mode

Car Audio System: “bumm bup bumm bup-bumm bumm bup bumm bup Your own…bup bumm bup Personal…bup bumm bup Jesus…bup bumm bup-bumm bumm bup bumm bup Someone to hear your prayers, Someone who cares…

J: “Ahhh siiii, es una canción muy buena!!” I crowed in reinforcement, thrilled to learn that this most favorite song of hers was a classic Depeche Mode hit from the ’80s.  I wasn’t quite sure whether she was looking for a literal translation or greater meaning, so I started loosely translating…

J: “Alguien quien oye tus… pues, como se dice cuando hablas con Dios?”    (Someone who hears your… well, how do you say when you talk with God?)
G: “Oraciones.”  (Prayers.)
J: “Si! Está hablando sobre alguien quien oye tus oraciones y te cuida.”  (Yes! It’s talking about someone who hears your prayers and cares for you.)

I explained that although I had heard this song many times, I had never really thought about what it means… We agreed it was best to restart the song. After a full run through, I made a valiant attempt to explain the meaning of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” in Spanish  (sounds like a bad dream from a Spanish lit class), focusing on the fact that despite the frequent use of the word “Jesus”, “prayer” and “faith”, Depeche Mode should not be classified as a religious band. :)

J: “Pienso que la canción sea sobre otra opción en vez de Jesus para ayudarte cuando estás solo y necesitas soporte… otra opción como música u otra persona…? Que puedes tener algo personal para “reach out”…?”  (I think the song is about another option instead of Jesus to help you when you are alone & need support…another option like music or another person? That you can have something personal to reach out to?)

I realized that even in English, I did not have a lot of insight into Depeche Mode’s thought processes. However, Guadalupe seemed to be pleased with my vague ideas, and we briefly discussed the differences between religious things and spiritual things, as evidenced by this “Personal Jesus” that one might have…

I reckon at this rate, it is only a matter of time before I am teaching a comparative religion class in Spanish at the local community college… 😉

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  1. Kim says:

    Jules, it seems Guadalupe isn’t alone in her quest to understand this song… see: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061031174411AAoJ2mB

    Apparently this is the source of much heated debate! Perhaps you should do some research before you see her next to show her how seriously you take these conversations?

  2. Julie says:

    Haha you now get double bonus points for not only leaving a comment but also RESEARCHING additional info regarding my post. I am just happy to see that I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand the depths of Depeche Mode’s soul… :)

  3. American Mommy in Mexico says:

    What a interesting ride! Where did she get the CD – I wonder?

  4. Liz says:

    jaja.. cuantas canciones escuchamos y realmente no sabemos lo que cantamos ni lo que significan.

    Precisamente hoy le estuve ayudando a una amiga a hacer unas traducciones del inglés al español y lo he disfrutado mucho. E incluso he aprendido algunas palabras nuevas.

    Bonito fin & happy valentine’s!

  5. deeblog says:

    The key lyric here is “flesh and bone/ by the telephone,” implying that the young, distraught and probably rather fetching woman he is trying to sed-, um, trying to save needs a soul (or spirituality, which can assume the form of love; no pun on ass intended).

    And you have to love the use of Jesus, which I think only rhymes with “visas.”


  6. John says:

    Wow, you really are getting deeply embedded in the local culture, I’m impressed! To have your own Taxista only stirs the imagination to think “what’s next?” And the answer just might be (all friends of the taxista) your own personal network of patronas. They’ll be knitting you sweaters before you know it!

  7. Susie says:

    I heard that song this morning and immediately thought of you!

  8. Erica says:

    I am going back through all of your old posts and I finally had to comment on this one! I am currently living in Xalapa and have thought about starting a blog called “conversations I have with taxi drivers” since they are frequent and funny. The other day I had the pleasure of translating the Kool and the Gang classic “Cherish” for my taxista. Good times.

    1. Julie says:

      Erica- I love it. And that could be a blog that would survive across really all cultures– not just Mexico! :) But certainly, the song-meaning discussions seem to be particularly popular in MX. I look forward to your first post!!

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