After last minute scrambles and much flak from various quarters, Delhi has finally managed to put everything in place for the Commonwealth Games which open here on Sunday. And Delhittes are not only surprised but delighted at seeing a cleaner, greener and more colourful city.
"The sporting event has brought in a lot of new opportunities for the city. The change on the ground is already quite perceptible," said Ankit Varshney, a software analyst.
Be it an expanded Metro, stadia, flyovers, buses, bus shelters, or streeetscaping on arterial roads, there is much by way of infrastructure that has been added to the capital. And, it has also finally dawned on Delhiites that all this and more that has come about because of the Games will add to their convenience long after the mega event is over.
KD Kaushal, a retired government official, has been doing the rounds of the city for the last few days, taking stock of the changes. "I have never seen Delhi as beautiful as this in my life," the 65-year-old said.
"All the buildings and Metro stations are lit up. Everything seems cleaner and greener," Kaushal added.
The challenge was to make the city world class, complete with modern infrastructure and amenities. And city residents say the challenge has definitely been met.
"The change has been tremendous. Take Connaught Place for example...Going there was a nightmare a few months back. The roads were unclean, the walls untidy and reeking with smells. Look at the complex now, it looks completely changed," said Smriti Sharma, a college student.
With Delhi Metro now running through almost the entire city, many Delhiites are happy that they don't have to drive through traffic snarls caused by the lanes deicated to ferry Games athletes and officials.
"Metro has made life comfortable...you can see people more cheerful," Kaushal said.
Parking facilities have been added where they were most needed -- in popular central markets. Garbage has been cleaned up from most places and changes are seen even at places quite far from the Games venues.
"The roads here were in complete abandon until now...all that has changed now," said Sharma, a resident of Dilshad Garden.
But Rajesh Khushwaha, a sports enthusiast, hoped the Games facilities would be open to the public after the event.
"These are world class facilities...it's like a New Year gift for us," said Khushwaha, who plans to take up athletics professionally.
The change hasn't been entirely cosmetic in nature. Delhiites observe a saner traffic sense in themselves and a sense of collective responsibility. Many youngsters have signed up as volunteers to assist the officials in their efforts to host the Games.
Pramod Kumar, a sales engineer with Yantrika Instruments, has offered to help the traffic police during the Commonwealth Games. He plans to do the voluntary work after his work hours.
"I will volunteer from 6 pm to 9 pm, after completing my shift. It is fulfilling to serve the society. I've learnt this from experience and this is what I'm working for," the 21-year-old said.
The authorities have taken note of the collective efforts of the city residents too.
In a statement to reporters a couple of days ago, Special Commissioner (Traffic) Ajay Chadha wrote on Delhi traffic police's Facebook account: "We are thankful to all the citizens for their cooperation in implementing the Games lanes. Barring very few exceptions, all the citizens are complying with the restrictions. We look forward to their continued support till Oct 16."
So while some have found solace in a better public transport system, some are happy with the better roads the city has got while many others have seized the opportunity to contribute to society by lending a helping hand.