This is a story told to me by a stranger while walking on a beach in Tamil Nadu, a state in the south of India. I will recreate it from memory but if anyone knows the source, please let me know so I can credit it.
It goes like this.
There is this town somewhere in India. Visitors often arrive by bus. As they depart the bus, they find themselves in the centre of a busy town near the town square. In the square there is a guru who sits in his chair and is ready to dispense wisdom to those who request it.
A visitor arrives and is uneasy about this unfamiliar town. He approaches the guru and asks, “Guru, what are the people like here?”
The guru looks at the visitor and says “First my son, tell me what the people are like in your town?”
The visitor responds “Well, I come from a wonderful town. The people are honest and look out for each other. When there is a need they help out. They are happy.” The guru responds, “I am pleased to tell you that the people here are just like those in your town..”
The visitor smiles and moves on. Another visitor approaches the guru with the same question: “Guru, what are the people like here?” The guru looks at the visitor and says “First my son, tell me what the people are like in your town?”
The visitor responds: “Well guru, I come from a sad place. The people are vain and bitter, they lie and cheat, they are heartless and evil. I am hoping this will be a better place.” The guru responds, “I am sorry to tell you my son that the people here are just like those in your town.”