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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

Ticking On

It is interesting to see how the rhythms of life are beginning to find a
shape in this new year and in the fourth month since the 9/11 attacks. As I mentioned last week, I realized that almost all the news seems to come away from that moment, to be connected with it. It was the stone thrown into the lake and the waves are a long way from subsiding.

Today I was organizing some meetings in New York for a client. One of the
participants was to have flown in from the West Coast. She won't. She
can't. She can not get on a plane.

Tripp tells me he sees no reason to get on a plane, not at least this year.
My solace is perhaps his love for London will eventually dictate our going,
meaning I can have a transatlantic crossing, something I have always wanted
to do.

What happened was not just a pebble in the pond; it was a meteor crashing
into the planet of our existence.

Each day we are moving on, we are going on. We continue to live lives, do
business deals, move around but it is just not the same. Amtrak is crowded
between New York and D.C. because there are many people, myself included, who
do not want to fly that particular corridor. There are people, like Tripp
and the friend from the West Coast, who don't want to get on planes at all.

But our lives keep moving, keep ticking. Some things have come to a stop,
have altered, have changed, but there is a movement forward. As the old year
thankfully passed into the past and the New Year began its unraveling, there
was, for a brief minute of time, a giddiness of relief and a burst of belief
that all would be normal again.

But the New Year arrived and some of us discovered that its arrival did not
wash away all the dread that we now carry with us, some of the time. As we
move through the miasma of the repercussions of 9/11 our lives keep ticking
on. Birthday parties happen, children have ballet lessons, dinners are given
and contracts have to be written.

We go to restaurants. We have martinis; we drink wine, we have good food.
The world, as we knew it, still exists in its essential form. But something
fundamental has changed. The innocence with which we lived our lives is gone.

Are we a bit like Rome after it was raped by the Visigoths? I don't know. I
only know that everyone I know is no longer feeling secure the way we once
did. But even though we are insecure we must continue living. We have
business to do. We have things that must be accomplished. The system keeps
on working.

It is just that the system does not feel as secure as we once thought it was.

That is what was lost when the Towers fell: our belief that the system was

This discomfort is everywhere and it infects our society. It formed the
final moments of a conversation yesterday with a network executive. On a
professional level, he and his company were attempting to assess the market
and what would people stand? How much reality do we want? What can they do
successfully? After all, it's just TV.

Five years ago, I spent three and a half months in India. And, I genuinely
worry that India and Pakistan will work themselves into a frenzy and blow the
sub continent into oblivion.

I am afraid for my friends Kiran and Sanjay. Kiran, who gave me the carpet
that graces the entry to our country house and Sanjay, who gave me my
favorite pair of cufflinks

They live there and they could be blown away in a thermonuclear hell that we
thought was behind us when the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union imploded.

But it is not. I vividly remember the fear I saw in the face of a Muslim
woman in Bombay who was still attempting to understand the riots that had
rocked the city two years earlier. She didn't understand where the hate had
come from. But it's there and that strange, desperate hate could lead to the
first nuclear disaster since Hiroshima.

I don't know what they're thinking but, I know enough from being there that
it is a possible and in that possible we would lose some of the greatness of
the next century. Indian and the Pakistanis great wealth is not natural
resources but, in human resources.

Does anyone realize how many of the intellectual geniuses of the last two
decades come from those two countries? Not enough. They are the birth place
of a huge number of the intellectual forces that are shaping tomorrow and,
God help us, they could blow themselves away!

I love India. It is the most magnificent, horrible, wonderful, awful,
magical place I have ever been. And in all the madness of the last months,
they have found an excuse to bring themselves to the brink.

The possibility that this moment could come was in the face of the young
Muslim woman in Bombay six years ago. She knew this was a possibility then
even if she did not have the words for it.

We are sending troops to the Philippines, I discover. It is another wave
from the meteor. Troops will be deployed in more places and we will learn to
know exotic locations in any number of countries.

The clocks tick. Time keeps moving on. We live on the edge. And what makes
me realize this more than anything is that they have found the watches of the
victims of 9/11 and have gathered them up, ready to give them back to the
survivors, many of them still ticking.

Time keeps on. The desperate pace of the world keeps on. India and Pakistan
face each other off and I want to scream: stop! Troops go to the
Philippines. We are working to stop another meteor.

But even when the most horrific of events happens, time keeps ticking on and,
even when death takes its toll, the machines and the clocks keep ticking on!