Alina Padikkal has been familiar to Keralites for long. She first appeared on television while studying in class three. Later in 2005, she won the State government's award for the best presenter.
Now, Alina is aged just 23, but she is among the top presenters in Malayalam with a long and glittering track record. She has a good fan following too, which is enticed by her peppy talk.
From presenting shows, Alina moved to acting in television serials. Though she has become busy in life and career, Alina enjoys travelling. “Long trips are few nowadays. Each day, I spend studying, at shoots and in other engagements. However, I try to go on a long trip at least once a year. Some days will be set apart for the purpose whatever work I have,” she says.
Alina loves identifying a place, travelling there and enjoying everything it has to offer. “I inherited my liking for travel from my parents. They plan a trip all the time. Every Sunday, they take their bike and go on at least a short trip. Many times, they don’t take me along with them, but I watch them setting out for the trip with pleasure,” says Alina.
The actress has travelled to almost all major tourism destinations in Kerala and loves the Malabar area comprising Kozhikode and Kannur districts the most. “The entire area is so beautiful. The local people are also very warm and friendly; they are innocent and display genuine affection,” she says. Another factor that lures Alina to Malabar is the local cuisine.
Bike ride on beach
While in Kannur for a shoot, Alina had an unforgettable experience riding a bike along Muzhappilangad beach. “I love going on long bike rides. Sometime after the shoot at Muzhappilangad, I visited the place again and spent considerable time there. I also drove a car along the beach,” she reveals.
A frightful encounter
A journey that Alina remembers with a shudder is the one to Shendurney forest. “Though I have travelled a lot, no trip caused anxious moments like the visit to Shendurney,” she says.
Alina went there in connection with a shoot. “At that time, I was recovering from an injury to my foot and joined the shoot only because I could not avoid it. My mother accompanied me during the trip,” she explains.
“Before venturing into the wild for the shoot, the forest officer had given us some strict instructions. One was that we should leave the forest before dusk. However, that day we could not complete our work by sunset. Moreover, as it was too late to head back from the forest, a decision was taken to spend the night there,” she informs.
It was pitch dark everywhere. The forest officer told everyone to remain quiet at night and not to panic even if some wild creature appears. “The officer told us that we could attract danger if we scream or turn panicky. He also warned us not to disturb wild animals in any way,” says Alina.
“I was frightened by even the sight of fireflies that night,” remembers the actress.
Making matters worse, the forest was outside the coverage area of mobile phones. “We were put up in a two-room tent of the Forest Department. It was pitched in a depressed area adjacent to a pond, which served as a waterhole for wild elephants,” she says.
Though fear gripped her, Alina managed to sleep for a little time. But when she woke up next morning, she received the shock of her life. There were footprints of a leopard and several cubs outside the tent. “The Forest Officer told us that they would not return, having sensed the presence of humans. But I felt he was only trying to give us some courage,” she says.
Alina spent the entire day pondering over how she would escape from there with an injured foot. Thankfully, nothing untoward happened and she returned home safe.
Alina's mother is always worried about her love for thrilling trips. “On many occasions, I have travelled long distances all alone. I love doing that. Once I met with an accident during a bike trip, but had a very narrow escape,” she reveals.
Alina was sent to Bengaluru for higher studies as well as to 'reform' her. “But it is the best place I have ever visited. Nowhere else have I enjoyed myself so thoroughly. If anyone asks me now about my favourite place, I would say that it is Bengaluru,” she says.
All the happening places in the city are familiar to Alina now. “I love the food, fashion and everything else in Bengaluru,” says the talented lady who is pursuing an MBA at Christ College in the city.
Car trips are the best
Most people prefer to travel by bus, flight or train. A majority of passengers sleep their time away in such modes of transport. But these journeys bore Alina to hell. “Driving a car helps us become familiar with each place on the way and enjoy the scenery,” she feels.
She has many interesting incidents to relate. Once, when her parents went to Kerala for some business matters, Alina stayed in Bengaluru saying that she had special class.
In the morning, she started a trip to Chennai on her car. Alina had no idea about the route and those days, Google Maps was not available on mobiles. After covering some distance, she reached a toll booth where she asked the route to Chennai. But she learnt that the road headed to Coimbatore and took a U-turn.
After some distance, Alina lost her way again. This time, she had taken the road to Hyderabad. Then she noticed a vehicle with a Tamil Nadu registration passing that way and asked its occupants whether they were heading to Chennai. When they replied in the affirmative, Alina followed them all the way to the Tamil Nadu capital. “It was a totally new experience,” according to Alina. When she returned home later, Alina received much flak from her mother.
With annual trips to far off places, Alina has now visited diverse locations like Gokarna, Pondicherry, Delhi, Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai. Now her dream is to visit Leh and Ladakh on a bike. However, this trip won't take place this year as everyone in the family is planning a trip to Goa in connection with a cousin's wedding.
“But the Ladakh tour on a bike will certainly happen next year,” winds up Aleena.