The man in question pulled his folding metal basket cart on the subway and looked around. He was dressed in a thawb and what looked like a Jinnah hat. He smiled at the car and looked around before pulling his cart up behind himself in car exit opposite where he entered. He seemed neat but not clean with probably tobacco stains on his fingers. We exchanged nods and I went back to my whatever. He fingered some piece of paper with multicolor writing on it the entire time he was in the car but not in a nervous way so much as in a manner to keep his hands busy while his mind wandered. The paper equivalent of twirling a pen. He and I left at the same shop, but I let him go first. Before exiting, he dropped the paper he was manipulating into a metal pamphlet container mounted by the entrance to the car. I waited a beat and let him completely exit before grabbing the paper.

This is what it said:


The paper itself smelt strongly of spices or oils that were alien to me. Probably the vanilla or lilac of generic “nice smell” of a culture more used to things more potent. I scanned the paper and returned it to the metal pamphlet holder the next time I took the subway.