Pamela McCourt Francescone

Photos Pamela McCourt Francescone


U Thein Zaw, owner of the old Nagar glass factory in Yangon, recounts the golden years of the family business and how, in 2008, cyclone Nargis destroyed the factory and his father’s dream


“Who could forget that night?  It was 2nd of May 2008 and, unlike most of the population, we had been warned by a client that cyclone Nargis was about to hit the country, and so we left the factory.  Just as well, because the fury of Nargis swept away everything here in Yangon.  The trees and the buildings in which we made our glass, our furnaces, and the storehouses where we had thousands of pieces ready for delivery, were all totally destroyed.  And we found ourselves without our business which, a year earlier, we had been forced to curtail due to a huge hike in the price of the gas we needed for our furnaces.”

What is left of the Nagar factory  – “My father was born on a Saturday under the dragon zodiac sign and when he opened the factory he called it Nagar which means dragon in our Myanmar language,” – is concealed behind a high wall on a street not far from Inya Lake in a suburb of Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar.  U Thein Zaw lives with his sisters and nieces in a house down a pathway covered by the thick vegetation that blankets the large plot. This charming and smiling gentleman, who wears the traditional longyi, speaks beautiful English and tells the story of his family with great passion.