When you can't do anything else, you have to be able to laugh it off. In fact, as the situation in the country deteriorates people are seeking more and more comic relief. And this where cartoonists like Rajesh KC come in: to provide the daily chuckle to help readers get through a brand new day. One of a growing band of editorial cartoonists in Nepal, Rajesh has drawn more than 2,500 cartoons with his distinctive style in Kantipur and Kathmandu Post. All his illustrations have a self-portrait commoner looking on at the absurdities of daily life in Nepal. Rajesh has now collected 153 of the funniest cartoons in a book published by Ratna Pustak Bhandar. "Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but mostly, I laugh," says Rajesh, who runs a travel agency in his spare time.
Largely self-taught, Rajesh admits that in the beginning he was influenced by the craft and style of the famous Indian cartoonist, RK Laxman. "People started saying, where is your Nepaliness, why are you copying Laxman," explains Rajesh. "So I threw away the Laxman books." But the common man is still there, with a slightly bemused look on his face that probably reflects Rajesh's own moods. The cartoonist's subject matter ranges from lampooning authority, poking fun at shoddy services and drawing attention to social ills like child labour and corruption.
One cartoon in the book (see illustration) has a robber holding up a bank manager. The manager tells him: "I told you to pretend you were launching an industry and to come here to ask for a loan, not to rob me!" Some will shake their heads, others will chuckle. Most will do both.