At the end of the day, were the 19th Commonwealth Games, which concluded in New Delhi on Thursday, a grand success or an abysmal display of India's incompetence to be a world power? Opinions differ.
The games have been plagued by widely publicised organisational glitches. Apart from falling footbridges, leaky roofs and inadequate equipment, the excessive 'bandobast', including heavy-handed security and severe traffic restrictions, combined with the needless difficulty in obtaining tickets to result in empty stadiums for virtually all the sporting events.
The early bad publicity didn't help either – a host of top athletes pulled out of the event, citing terror threats, poor conditions, other commitments, and so forth. The pull-outs helped India bag an unprecedented number of medals, prompting patriots to feel that India was coming of sporting age.
More cynical observes said nothing had changed on the ground, and the record medal haul only reflected the paucity of serious competition.
The games saw the participation of 72 'nations' - including half-nations like the Isle of Man and the Falkland Islands, still under British control. But most of the top sporting countries, like the US, Russia, China, and the East European nations, are not part of the Commonwealth.
The inept TV coverage by state-owned Doordarshan, the official broadcaster, also did not help win sports fans, old or new.
Things seemed to fall into place this week (too little, too late, some might say). In the last few days of the games, tickets became easier to buy, and the cops also lightened up a little.
The games village also may not have deserved the criticism it originally got – most of the athletes who participated seemed happy enough with the arrangements - apart from perpetual cribbers like Australia, of course.
"My Delhi belly's a little better today, I'm almost over it. It's happening to everybody in all sports; it's a place we're not used to. If you can be comfortable being uncomfortable that's great," commented Canadian swimmer Brent Hayden.
Along with the opening ceremony, the closing on Thursday was the only event that saw a near-full stadium – perhaps reflecting the Indian penchant for spectacle rather than sport. The chaos, the confusion, the controversies ... all were swept aside by the spirit of celebration as the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever staged an extravagant farewell party at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium before a crowd that was estimated at 60,000.
As might be expected, the closing ceremony was not nearly as spectacular as the opening. Moreover, it was marred by lengthy and lugubrious speeches from innumerable self-indulgent functionaries.
Reflecting the official hubris, organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi for the first time wore a broad and apparently genuine grin on his face – the fact that the crowd booed him to the rafters didn't seem to affect his euphoria over bringing the games to a 'successful' conclusion.
Now, it appears that the unabashed Kalmadi is bidding for a role in the organisation of the 2012 London Olympics. All power to him!