London: No matter where a person is born or raised, the stereotype lies in one’s head. This is what happened with the Infosys chairperson at London airport as she stood in the business class queue at the airport. The so called “classy woman” who wore high heels told Sudha Murty to go and stand in the economy queue.
“Go and stand in the economy class queue. This line is for business class travellers,” the classy woman told Sudha Murty at the International Heathrow airport in London. Murty wore a Khadi Salwar Kameez, which might have made the “high heeled” woman consider her to be a misfit to travel in business class. She also called Murty a “cattle-class person”.
Drawing on her personal experiences, Sudha Murty, in her new book, Three Thousand Stitches, sheds light on some of the prevailing biases and stereotypes 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 The concept that you automatically gain class by acquiring money is an outdated thought process,” she writes in the book.
Murty 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. “Soon I realised it was because of my dress!” she says. Ironically, Sudha ran into the same lady later in the day, reports HT.
Ironically, the same woman who wore Indo-Western silk outfit with an expensive pair of heels, and complemented it with a Gucci handbag at the airport, had slipped into a plain khadi saree to suit the theme of a meeting where Sudha was pitching Infosys Foundation to sponsor funds for the overhaul of a government school.
Needless to say, the lady was shocked to see Sudha 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 goes 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,” she says.
“So when I experienced the same myself at the airport I was more upset than angry,” she said.
The book, published by Penguin Random House, consists of 11 chapters. It talks about the author’s experiences while she was working for Infosys Foundation, set up in 1996.