But, what eventually got Ms Murty's goat was when she was called a "cattle-class person". That was when the otherwise calm 66-year-old wife of industrialist Narayana Murthy decided to give her fellow traveller a piece of her mind.
Taking from her personal experiences, Ms Murty in her new book, 'Three Thousand Stitches', sheds light on some of the prevailing biases in the society.
"Class does not mean huge possession of money. Mother Teresa was a classy woman. So is Manjula Bhargava, a great mathematician of Indian origin. The concept that you automatically gain class by acquiring money is an outdated thought process," she writes in the book.
In an interview with PTI, she said she could have shown her boarding pass and cleared all doubts about her "class" in no time, but she waited to find out how, according to the woman, she was not befitting for business class standards.
Needless to say, the woman was shocked to see Ms Murty chairing the meeting. "The clothes were a reminder of the stereotype that is still rampant today. Just like one is expected to wear the finest of silks for a wedding, social workers must present themselves in a plain and uninteresting manner," she writes.
The philanthropist went on to express grave concern over the existence of an "external force" dictating people to appear in a certain way to be part of the "elite" club. This, she added, led many people into "wrong habits".
"In most metro cities, many college-going girls become part of high-level prostitution because they want to earn quick money to buy designer clothes. This is because of the pressure created by the external force. So when I experienced the same myself at the airport I was more upset than angry," she said.
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