What’s in a Quarter?

The word `Quarter’ fascinates me, for when with friends outside at a Bar – the order is One quarter of… , with soda, or water or some soft drink, and ice, to go along with the drink.  Then the order is for some bites or condiments along with it. 

As the waiter turns along to get the order, and even before the drinks arrive, there are the usual ice breaker conversations of how it has been such a long time since we all have caught up; the great delight that we have all been able to meet up at this common venue and discuss or whine about life.

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Starts the first guy, who is in the field of Sales & Marketing, “I tell you, my boss has gone crazy, for we have not even achieved the last quarter targets and this time he has more than doubled the target for this quarter.  Someone should teach him target setting.” Without knowing what the targets were or have been set, the other three lend a sympathetic ear to the first guy.

The second guy, an Engineer in charge of production in a Auto manufacturer, adds up, “We managed to achieve our production targets over the last two quarters, but Marketing and Sales have not been able to achieve their targets, and now we are not producing further, for the inventory has piled up, and I don’t know what will happen in the next quarter.” Again the other three friends lent his a sympathetic ear, without knowing the numbers. 

“Sales and Marketing should not be blamed for everything.  They are like the army or soldiers who defend the nation.  They give up their life for the company, and nobody celebrates them.”  This was he first guys attempt to bring some interactivity to the conversation, and sure enough, he was successful in stirring up a hornet’s nest.  

The Second guy, responded with, “What do marketing and sales people do anyways.  Go on tours, make jazzy presentations, and when things go bad in the market, hide behind the excuse that everything is bad in the market,”

The third guy, now joined the conversation, “See each field or discipline has its own merits and demerits.  You can’t just blame any single department.  We have not got our incentives for the last quarter, so do we blame the finance department or the Management.”  He then added, “This is out of context, but by the way, I am just returning from the club, where I have made it to the quarter finals in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles in badminton.”

By now the waiter arrived with the order, and the respective quarter was poured into the glass in the required quantities with suitable dilutions.  The four of them readied themselves for the customary CHEERS before they could start the evening.  “Cheers – to the Four of us who form a great quartet, may our friendship continue for years together.” Now began the evening. 

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Now the fourth guy who was silent till now began, Since we came here, a quarter of an hour has passed, and I have also moved into the company’s quarters since last month, we are all worried about the last quarter and the next, and one has reached the quarter finals.  Here we are all touching upon different quarter, as my kid prepares for the quarterly exams.”

There was a stunning silence as the four friends – a quartet wondered about the one word that they started the evening with – Quarter and the different connotation it took. 

As the conversations continued, the fourth guy now jumped into a monologue – “A year is divided into four quarters.  Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 – if you go by calendar year January to March is Q1, but if you go by financial year April to June is Q1.” The other three waiting for the fourth guy to pause, interjected saying “So”.   He continued, “We tend to achieve all our targets in the last quarter mostly, so that is October-December in the calendar year or Jan-March in the financial year. Did you know that Indian festivals are also based on the Quarter System.” 

Now this was intriguing as the other three friends attentively listened. The fourth guy continued with his monologue.  “January 14, April 14, July 14, and October 14 are important dates in the Hindu Calendar for on each of these dates there are festivals. January 14 is Uttarayan, Sankranti, Pongal, Bihu, Lohri – essentially a harvest, and sun starts travelling to North East Direction.  April 14 is like a new year across various regions, again a harvest.  July 14 is when we enter the season of festivities, again a phase of harvest, and this is about 20 days after the solstice of dakshinayan, when sun starts travelling toward the South East.   October 14 coincides with a phase of Dussera and Diwali, another harvest season and festivities.”

“Hey man, this is quite interesting” quipped the first guy, as the other two nodded their heads taking a deep sip, and savouring some of the starters.   The monologue continued as the fourth guy rattled further, “During most of these festivals, we renovate our houses, so we engage labour and pay them, we repair the house so work of plumber, mason, carpenter, and so on, we paint the house, and then we buy clothes, so weaver, tailor and all that.  The first offering from the new harvest is also given to god or distributed, so charity.  Our entire system was created for spends during festivals and energizing the value chain. “

This is very interesting. You seem to have stumbled on a great theory, said the second guy.  We must continue this discussion, but on another occasion, for now we have all come here to get drunk, so waiter – one more QUARTER!

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A Communications & Marketing Consultant, with about three decades of rich experience across various management disciplines, Interests include: International Politics, Management, Marketing, Wellness, Indian Music, Theater, Reading and Writing.

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