15 Minutes With Radha S Menon, Creator of Ganga’s Ganja

Radha S Menon is the playwright of Ganga’s Ganja, the headlining production that will play throughout the Feminist Fuck It Festival (April 11-22). 

Ganga’s Ganja is a tale of two sisters, medical marijuana and a snake. Living in complete isolation, Ganga cares for her sister Mena who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Mena has renounced her previous pharmaceutical care regime and uses cannabis medicinally to ease her debilitating symptoms. Ganga self-medicates and uses sex to blot out guilt and loneliness. When a fast-talking interloper stumbles into their world and their weed crop is stolen, the sisters are thrust onto a path of no return.

We caught up with Radha this week. 

SDTC: What’s at the top of your bucket list?

RSM: To meet the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. I saw him speak once in Toronto many years ago and the calm that descended over thousands of us listening was astounding. I knew then that I must make that pilgrimage before he leaves us to soar free.

What’s your go-to song for getting stuff done?

Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Prince has a song for every activity and I can’t get enough of him.

What are you sick of hearing about?

Donald Drumf, Paranoid Putin and that chinless Syrian leader.

What advice would you give to your fourteen-year-old self?

Don’t be so hard on yourself. I flailed myself over my inability to help my mother pass away. I was seventeen when she phoned me and told me she had cancer and had three months to live. I was at work and fell into shock and Mum had to come pick me up. She never brought it up again and never told anyone else. When she passed on three years later, I was alone. I could not forgive myself. That is the heart of my play, Ganga’s Ganja: the inability to let go of someone you love.

What does your ideal Saturday look like?

Yoga in the park, lying on my back watching the clouds, a long bike ride by the lake, dinner at my favourite restaurant in Hamilton Himalaya and then dancing all night long!

What’s the best part of being your current age?

Knowing what is important and what isn’t. We spend so much time consumed by irrelevant thought, action, occupations and events when most of it is irrelevant.

What word/phrase should we use more often?

Let go. 

What/who is currently inspiring you?

I am a member of the AGO and recently visited the Infinity Mirror exhibit by artist Yayoi Kasuma who, at eighty-nine, still continues her search for truth within her quest to express how small we humans truly are. If only we all could see this, the world would be a better place.

Fave rainy day comfort food? Or activity?

I love curling up on the sofa with a good book and slurping on spicy Tom Yum soup.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a vet because I love animals but then I realized that I would have to dissect them and I am so against the exploitation of animals in any way that I realized I could never go through the training. I am glad I made this decision because the rate of animal exploitation and outright slavery has gone beyond the point of return; the destruction of natural habitat and the use of animals as things is one of the worst crimes of the past century. We human animals should be ashamed: I certainly am.

What was your favourite game/toy as a child?

I loved playing Monopoly with my family. All the cousins, aunts and some uncles would sit on the ground and roll dice for hours. I was very good at this game and always chose to be the little dog.

What adult task would you like to get better at?

Bookkeeping is one task I detest so I am not very fastidious. It’s amazing how we admire adults when children are far better people, having not yet learned to lie to one’s face or smile when they want to shout, “Fuck you!” I admire little people and want to be more childish than I already am. I rediscovered my inner child; she was locked up for a long time and I lived without joy, but since her return five years ago, I am free from futile adult hang-ups.

If you could spend a year studying something, what would it be?

Piano. When I was a teen, singing was my life and I played the piano, but because we moved continually I was always the odd one out and when I was asked to be part of my school field hockey team I accepted. I so wanted to be part of something, be accepted, but my piano lessons were at the same time. It is something I regret because if I had continued to learn, I would be able to express the music within my spirit much easier.

I often feel like I want to sing more. I want to explore jazz and sing in small dingy clubs.

What’s your idea of true happiness?

I have found happiness. I am not kidding. I searched for a very long time and found it was elusive–I couldn’t be happy. I searched and searched, looking outward, but once I connected with myself, joy, happiness and a whole heap of well-being flooded me.

During my life I have wrestled with the black dog and he has come close to ripping me to shreds, especially in my youth. I was suicidal; I was lost. It has taken decades to reconnect with my spirit and be able to hold my head up, to be able to hold space and feel like I am deserving of this. I have reinvented myself time and time again. I marvel at the resilience of the human spirit.

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