Ginger Beirut has now been online for a full year. In that time the page with the most hits on this site is About me… so now it’s time to talk about you, about those who visit this blog.
Over the past year, this site has drawn readers from the most far-flung corners of the atlas, from the Isle of Man to Fiji, Azerbaijan to Angola and Belize to Brunei. It’s a testimony to the sheer extent of Lebanese migration and the way these migrants have transmitted to new communities their love of their country, their cuisine and their peculiar approach to life.
The breadth of this readership is likely also linked to the recent surge in coverage of Lebanon in the press for reasons other than politics and conflict (though the ink hasn’t been spared in those columns either). Aside from a severe spate of Beirut is Back articles (for a parody read here) in which journalists took turns to report on their experience of staying at Le Gray and eating at Tawlet, there have been many in-depth articles in the international press (by the New York Times to name one source) which manage to get beyond the fabulous, eclectic contradictions that grab every visitor to the capital, and dig into the actual make-up of Lebanese society.
While international press titles can rely on readers attracted by a broad coverage, this blog focuses on just one truly tiny country through one pair of eyes. Fittingly, it draws a niche readership. Comments from readers, and especially the many emails you send me show that people who come to browse here are people at a crossroads of cultures. They have strong links with Lebanon, sometimes through origins, but also by marriage, having lived here for work or military service, or simply having fallen in love with the country. At the same time they have to have the native-level English and literary patience to put up with my verbose writing style. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how many people fall into the intersection of this limiting Venn diagram.
One of the joys of throwing ideas and articles out into the ostensible void of cyberspace over this year has been that of finding my writing touches a chord with readers around the world. I have been delighted by the vast number of readers who have reached out with comments and emails, telling me their own experiences, asking questions, proposing explanations and even offering jobs (keep them coming!).
You may have noticed a few tweaks to the layout recently to welcome in a second year of musings and observations from here in Beirut. They aim to make browsing the blog a more pleasant experience for you readers. There’s less scrolling now that the recent posts are linked on the right, and as before you can navigate via the archives, the map and the tag cloud. It’s easier to subscribe using a reader of your choice and you can now opt to subscribe by email if you prefer.
You may notice a few other changes in the weeks to come but now’s a good time if you have any comments, whether it be on content or layout. How do you like to navigate the blog? Which features do you actually use? Which topics would you like to read more about?