Because of the very unique culture, food and religion Indians find it very difficult to retire in a mainstream retirement community. It suddenly hits people when you live here, this is reality. You are old, you are going to get sick. But for those who want to come here, I can tell you this is heaven for them. My name is Iggy Ignatius, I go by the founder and chairman of the Shantiniketan group of communities. In the 70s when we came we were all 20-year-olds. After 45 years we are the baby boomers of India who are beginning to retire. The first generation Indians, you ask anybody they'll say, 'Yes,' I want to go and die in India. So many people tried it, they went there, but then soon realized their children are here, their grandchildren are here, the medical facilities in India is not as great.
That's when we came along. And we offered a recreation of a piece of India right here in Florida. We call this place Little India. Because from every part of India people are here. We do things together, we have a lot of activities, so many activities we are really busy. Plus we don't have to cook, that is a great attraction. Because we have worked very hard in our life and now we want to enjoy our retirement. At 6, 6:15, some of us meet under the tree that we call it happy hour. We solve all the problems of the world. You can live in the most expensive neighborhood but if you don't have the community feeling together you are alone. When we started our first project, there was nothing like this existing in the United States. In 2006, we did a survey trip across the country calling Indians in each town to find out what they would look for in a retirement community. Unfortunately in August 2008, when we got the approvals, and ready to start the work in September, the biggest market crash of current times happened.
We didn't know what to do. Believe me by May 2011, we had completed the project and sold out. It was a miracle. That was the demand, the pent-up demand from the people who had already retired and were just looking for something like this. So this is 100 acres of land we call the Shantiniketan village this will have 1,000 condos when completed this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are 300,000 retired Indians nearing death. People want to be with their own kind of people.
The Indian philosophy splits the lifetime into four sections. The fourth segment is called vanaprastha that is your retirement. You start cutting down and start living like almost a monk preparing your soul for the next life. So this is my wife's memorial. An angel on earth and an angel in heaven. That's what my wife was, really. I had actually built this place for my wife after I am gone. But fate had it that she dies first, of leukemia. There's going to come a time in five, ten years we are going to see 20, 25 deaths a year. That's the hard part but it's a reality. I'm sure every retirement community faces that. I don't think here people think about dying although our philosophy talks about death itself.
I think people look forward to coming here because now they have all the time and they can really enjoy life. When you die here the soul goes and is reborn in another body. It is just a point in a continuum of eternal journey..