“There are 8 blue socks, 4 white socks and 2 black socks in a box. You pull out two socks one at a time without looking. What is the probability of getting 2 socks of the same color?”

My dislike to mathematics started with this problem.

I was playing snake and ladder with nine year old Vinayak yesterday. I became curious when he started taking short breaks before his throws.  He was going to the bed room with the dice.

Praying? Tampering with the dice?? I was curious. I followed him, of course without his knowledge. He was doing something strange.

He was experimenting something… and it was clear from his face things were not happening as he expected.

One more trip down the biggest snake and he abandoned the game.

“It does not work!”

“What does not work?!”

“The dice! Keep at knee height and throw with a little spin to the right… with three at top you get six every seventh throw!”

So that was it! He was making six throws secretly in the bedroom and coming back to make the seventh throw!!

“That is the rule with dices! You can get one, two or anything you want… but it is not working now”

“Was it working before?”

“It worked yesterday!  Abhil was with me… it worked… three times I got six”

I pretended I did not hear him. He is too young for a discussion on that subject.

I remembered a friend from the college days.

My house was beside a road going to the nearby railway station. One of our coconut palms dangerously leaned over that road. Once in a while coconuts fell . I was always worried about one falling on someones head.

My friend was very good in mathematics. He made some surveys for a week, like, how many people used that road, how strong the sea and land breeze were, how far the palm swayed during the day, and said the probability was very low, only one in seven thousand and eighty three.

Five to six a month… it will take almost hundred years for seven thousand and eighty three coconuts to fall from that tree. I was relieved.

But my relief had a very short life. Only till he added ” true… one in seven thousand and eighty three… one in seven thousand and eighty three coconuts falling from that palm and a head will reach the same coordinate in space at the same time… but I can’t tell which one is that one and when it is going to happen”

“You mean the next coconut can be that one!?”

“Yes! And it can happen the next second!”

I never understood theory of probability and its significance.

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