Naresh Parshotam: Pharmacist

I’ve been in this pharmacy for 29 years.

Surry Hills is one of those places that has vibrancy, variety, rich people, poor people. In the 80’s when we had the recession we “had to have”, Double Bay went bust but Surry Hills survived.

Surry Hills has changed a lot. When I moved here there were lots of Greeks, lots of Turkish. Slowly the Greeks and Turkish moved out. Bourke St school was on the verge of closing 10 years ago now it’s bursting. Where will these kids go for high school?

I know everybody in Surry Hills. I know people, their fathers and father’s fathers. I know people in the area and their families that they don’t even know about. One guy down in Bourke St, I was telling him about his uncles and he didn’t even know they existed. I know what medication people are on and all their secret little histories.

There used to be a rough period in late 80s here. There were druggies and junkies. I’ve been robbed half a dozen times with guns, syringes, knives. I haven’t been robbed for 15 years.

My first robbery was a shotgun put at my head. I had to go to the safe and give him the drugs. My second robbery was a knife. And one was a blood filled syringe. It was traumatic. You just need to get over it. They were the bad days.

One time, a guy carrying a ladder walked past my pharmacy, stuck his head in the door and asked, “Hey do you want to buy a ladder?” I said “No thanks.” Then a few minutes later, another guy walked past and said to me “Hey I was doing some painting and someone just stole my ladder!” That’s very Surry Hills.

When I bought the pharmacy, the interest rates were quite high. I had no money when I bought this business. I was broke. I borrowed money from my brothers. It was a difficult period. Thank God we made it through. Then we bought a house and haven’t looked back.

I would say working hard, happiness and family is important.

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