We are fortunate to have one of the best shops selling fresh flowers in Auckland on Ponsonby Road.
Suresh assured me he was very busy, but with a lovely smile agreed to tell me a bit about D. Jairam and Sons Quality Fruiterers, and the shop’s history.
To save confusion, Jeram is the anglicised version of Jairam. Another point on Indian names - succeeding generations take their father’s christian name as their surname. Hence, Jeram Gopal’s son became Dullabh Jeram. Suresh’s grandfather, Jeram Gopal landed in Auckland on 26 April, 1915. This was the day after our troops landed at Gallipoli. His birth certificate records his birth as 1890, but grandson Suresh thinks it was more likely 1880.
Jeram Gopal quickly got a job in a general store on Ponsonby Road, probably number 143 or 145. Jairam’s current address is 141 Ponsonby Road.
Suresh’s dad, Dullabh Jeram (that’s the D. In the shop name), came out to New Zealand as a 12 or 13-year-old and went to Nelson Street School. He helped his father from the start, collecting bottles, which he washed, and newspapers, all of which he sold for recycling. Those were horse and cart days, and Dullabh would rise early, go to Wrightson’s paddock in Great North Road and hitch up the horses.
Dullabh had two marriages. He married Ratanben, Suresh’s mother, in 1950. Sadly he passed away too soon in 1969. By that date the trams had gone from Ponsonby Road, and his wife Ratanben ran the shop on her own for many years. Suresh had trained as an engineer, but came back to join his mother in 1998. The hardy soul, Ratanben, died two weeks short of her 90th birthday.
Suresh is a charming man with a quiet assurance, and obviously proud of his Gujarati heritage. But he is running out of steam. He just grinned when I asked him how old he was. He’s in his late 60s but doesn’t look it. He has two engineer sons who have no interest in the fruit, vegetable and flower, business, so Suresh will be the last of the family line to run it. He was, he says, "born into the shop", and has clearly run a great family business very well over the years. He momentarily lost his smile when he told me he had to do the GST very soon.
Suresh Jeram remembers the old horse trough outside the shop, one of the last in Ponsonby. He remembers, too, the designer who sign painted the basket of fruit and vegetables on the shop-front logo.
Two of Suresh’s brothers, Prakash and Deemish, have helped in the business.
It won’t be too long before Suresh takes a well-deserved retirement, but the memory of D. Jairam and Sons Quality Fruiterers will live on for
Some of the prettiest and freshest flowers are outside a humble local dairy. You can pick up a single rose, a posy, or a large multi-flowered bunch any day of the week. (JOHN ELLIOTT)