By Paresh C. Palicha, The Hindu Metro Plus
(Kochi), 10th September 2001.
An avalanche of clichés like ‘Triumph of the
Spirit’, ‘Against All Odds’ and ‘Victory Of Willpower’
will strike your head when you talk to Mr. Alexis Leon, the
internationally acclaimed author of computer books and a software
consultant of repute. But the most stunning revelation to you
(when you clear your head of these clichés) will be that you are
looking at the real revolution brought about by Information
Technology (IT), in flesh and blood.
Alexis’ life can be termed as the best
comeback story in the recent times, pushing Amitabh Bachchan’s
post-KBC saga on the backburner
Alexis met with a fatal road accident on 2nd
December 1993, which literally broke his spine and left him to be
a wheelchair user for the rest of his life. At that time Alexis
was on the threshold of hitting big time in the IT industry.
Working as a Sr. System Analyst in Tata Consultancy Services,
Chennai, he was about to leave for Switzerland in a month’s time
on deputation, which was to be combined with his honeymoon.
Alexis, the practical man that he is, took the devastating
experience in his stride: “I had no other go, instead of
thinking about what I had lost I thought of what was left”, he
says with a saint like calmness defying any emotion from showing
on his face.
Alexis continued the job with TCS for about
eighteen months after going through rehabilitation, which had
given him wheelchair independence. He left TCS because of the
difficulties of conveyance. Even though he had a hand-controlled
car, his brother Mathews had to be in tow on a bike to help Alexis
get out of the car and to put him on the wheelchair. After leaving
TCS Alexis set up a software consultancy firm with his brother and
also started writing. He reveals that he had a flair for writing
from the beginning: “I used to do technical writing for the
projects I was involved in”. Alexis has made the best use of his
skill and his shrewd business acumen, he realized that there was a
market for cheap computer books and approached some publishers
saying that he could write books which would cost very less than
the imported books that are priced around Rs. 1500.00. “At that
time I was working on Mainframes, there were only a few imported
books available on the subject, which were priced at Rs. 1500.00
to Rs. 2000.00. I wrote to some publishers saying that there was a
market opportunity for such books”, Alexis explains.
Alexis has authored thirty-two books on various
subjects related to computers: from programming, Y2K and IT to
E-Business in the last seven years. Twelve of these books are
co-authored by his brother Mathews who has been with ever since
the accident happened. He has also written a few books in
partnership with US-based software consultant Richard Brooks.
Alexis has done M. Tech in Industrial
Engineering with first class and Distinction from College of
Alexis is buoyant about the future of IT in
India. He claims that there will be no future without IT and will
transform everything in the near future. He also feels that IT is
a boon for disabled people: “I can access any information
sitting here, I have co-authored books with people around the
world”, Alexis says.
Alexis is a prolific writer; he took just
twenty days each to complete his last four books. “I write quite
fast, I usually take only 1-2 months to complete a book”, he says with a
Alexis leads a disciplined life and it is
reflected in the room that he uses as his office cum study,
covered with ceiling high neatly stacked bookshelves (a
conspicuously placed framed notice ‘I Don’t Lend Books’
greets you as you browse the shelves) on three sides and a
personal computer on the fourth. He spends around nine hours here
in a day: writing and reading.
Alexis is a voracious reader and has a
collection of books on wide ranging subjects from legal thrillers
by John Grisham to Tom Clancy and assortment of books on other
topics like management and self-improvement. He also runs Pegasus
Book Club on the Internet, where he posts reviews of the latest
Ask him about the adjustments he had to make in
terms of aspirations before and after the fateful accident, which
turned his life upside down, again in his trademark saint like
manner Alexis explains that career-wise he does not regret
anything, if he was in software industry, his career graph would
have been similar to thousands of other software professionals, he
would have returned from Switzerland and would have migrated to
the USA: “I would not have achieved this much if I was in the
software industry, there people work for sixteen hours in a day.
You would hardly find a software professional who has written more
than two books in his whole life”.
Alexis plans to write a book about his eventful
life, which has been tentatively titled as ‘Reinventing the
Wheel’. A few chapters are already stored in the hard disk of
his computer. Alexis has not yet decided whether he will write
straight non-fiction autobiography or a fictionalized account of
his life: “I am thinking of making it into a fictionalized
story, that way I can add a little spice to it” he says,
thoughtfully rubbing his chin with his left and a rare smile
spreading on his lips.
Alexis’ homepage on the web is titled ‘Alexis
Ark’. You instinctively question him whether the title has any
metaphorical connection with the biblical Noah’s Ark, does he
see himself as a survivor and saviour? He politely denies any such
significance and explains that he just likes the rhyming effect it
has. But for hundreds of harassed software professionals around
the world who email to him for finding solutions for their
problems, Alexis is certainly a saviour.