“Vilaworshaleh” said the voice on the other side of the line.

“Sorry?!” I asked


It sounded Arabic.

“Huh. Say again!” I responded, wondering which parts of the Arabian peninsula did the voice from the other end had come from…


Still, this was Brunei – in South East Asia and as far removed from the Middle East as I could imagine. Slowly the gears in my head turned, playing back the message, cutting it into smaller pieces and according to the syllable. In the meantime, from another part of my brain – information was being transmitted, applied with additional contextual elements to the message : place, situation, dialect … anything.

Barely half a second later, I replied confidently.

“I’ll take the villa please”

“Ok, sir” came the response from the hotel desk – still as flat as ever. She reminded me of a deflated bicycle tyre. Flat but stable monotone. Singers would be jealous of her vocal control, I bet.

“1 villa”, the voice answered again.

A villa it was then. Apparently the chalets were about to be sold out. However, the family weekend getaway would be just fine at the villa – with or without the Arabic connotations.



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