Canada has been kind, people are friendly, and respect other human beings. Barring one instance- being spoken to rudely by Border police the first time I landed in Canada, things have been generally nice. I happened to travel to Winnipeg multiple times for work. My experience has always been great, from the hotel Holiday Inn where I stayed to the local vegetarian food options that I got to eat. I must say even Winnipeg has some really good Indian food options, in fact it has some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten.
This time when I went to Winnipeg for one last time, I was more relaxed. The stay was great as usual, though I still regret not having eaten my favourite Aloo Tikki at Clay Oven. On my way back I had to spend some time with my friend who stays in Toronto. Now every other such visit to Toronto airport has been good, no hassles. You get your check-in baggage on time. Things are pretty organised. Follow the instructions and you will reach your destination.
Not this time though. On my way out of the airport looking for taxis I saw few people, inside the airport, shouting “Taxi” soliciting passengers. This was a first, I had seen this happening in India but was shocked to see the same at Toronto. Now, most of these taxi drivers as you would know are Asians. They have done well for themselves considering the skills they have. I avoided few of them, like I would have done in India too, and was heading outside from where usually one gets a taxi. This was till a guy approached me and almost took my luggage from my hand, he showed me his I-card which said that he is authorised to run a Taxi.
Normally at Toronto airport you would walk straight out following the Taxi sign and there is an Airport official who helps passengers board Taxis/Limos. This guy took me a level below, and that is when I started thinking that something is really fishy. He took me to a private vehicle and put my bags inside and asked me to sit. I was about to board it when I realised he had no Meter, no GPS nothing inside. It was a private car. That’s when I said no ways I am boarding this car. I refused and got out and asked the guy to give me my suitcase from the trunk. I also realised that the guy was drunk. He asked me if I spoke Hindi, when I nodded he started conversing in hindi asking me to board. I refused telling him that he had no meter and I wont board. That is when he started abusing me in Hindi. I told him to hell with you and opened the trunk myself and took my suitcase. I went back into the airport, when a local Canadian guy was walking out. He paused for a moment, I think he was following what was happening with me. He told me that these guys are not authorised to pick passengers.
I finally went up a level and boarded the taxi from the correct place. The guy who was driving the taxi was another Indian from Punjab now settled in Canada. Courteous, smart, earning a living for self with the right means. On my way to my friends place I kept thinking that in past 5 minutes I have seen two extremely different kind of human beings. One earning through right means, working hard while the other one trying to make a quick buck, while bringing disrepute to the community.
Lesson learnt: Always board the taxis from authorised places only as directed by airport authorities.
I hope Toronto authorities catch these guys who are trying to dupe passengers at airport.