Suresh Kalmadi: A long way from sorry
What stands out more than anything else is Suresh Kalmadi's confidence - the confidence of a man who wields the power that comes with the title of chairman of the Commonwealth Games organising committee.
As he walked towards the television camera, which we had set up outside his house for the interview, he looked at me, pointed at his manicured lawn and proclaimed: "This is the finest garden in the whole of Delhi."
When you have faced the level of international criticism that has been hurled in the direction of the Delhi organising committee over the past few months, confidence is probably an essential characteristic.
Kalmadi admitted to me that there had been times recently when he thought that some countries would boycott the Games. In fact, during the course of our 20-minute interview that was the only time when he showed any sign of fallibility, of accepting that this event had been in any danger of not turning out the way he had planned.
There is no doubt that there are some genuine positives in the organising committee's pluses and minuses columns. For example, during our interview with Kalmadi, we hardly touched on the issue of security. There did not seem to be much point as the security operation here has gone according to plan so far. Considering all the fears that had been raised before the Games - and I do not want to tempt fate by saying too much prematurely - keeping the athletes and spectators safe in Delhi would have to rank as the most important achievement.
It is also true that spectator numbers have risen dramatically during the past few days. The hockey stadium was packed for Sunday's match between India and Pakistan, while the athletics venue was even close to capacity on Sunday evening.
Kalmadi argued that at these Games, like so many others, numbers would continue to pick up after the slow start. He correctly pointed out that there had been many empty seats at the Beijing Olympics. The difference in Delhi, though, is that it has not only been a case of a few empty seats. It has been a case of almost completely empty venues. I have covered many major international events and I have never seen as many spare seats as I did in the first week of these Games.
Kalmadi blamed this on tickets wasted by sponsors and stakeholders but the problem has to be deeper than that. Whatever the ticketing problems, though, the fact that venues are now filling up is another big positive for these Games.
What about the negatives? You have heard them all before... the delay in finishing the athletes' village, the collapse of a footbridge, the problem with the boxing scales that led to the weigh-in being delayed by a day and, yes, those poor ticket sales.
Well, Kalmadi is not in a hurry to admit mistakes were made. I tried to push him into making an apology but sorry is not a word that he feels the need to utter. When I asked him if anybody was owed an apology, he replied: "If some things are wrong then we'll definitely talk about it." That's a long way from sorry.
The sight of empty seats has plagued the first week of the Games. Photo: AFP
Again, it is only fair I should give Kalmadi some defence here. Some areas are not his responsibility, like the footbridge, but some are, like the athletes' village. And his comments about the photos taken inside the village in the days leading up to the Games will be controversial.
Kalmadi claimed that the rooms that had been photographed had never been intended to be used by athletes. He said that they were only for staff. If true, then the world's media has been guilty of serious misrepresentation. However, many of the competing countries will dispute Kalmadi's version of events. The photographs were taken by one nation's delegation here and were taken because that delegation was so appalled by the state of the accommodation being offered.
Kalmadi's comments about Glasgow 2014 can also be considered to be a little undiplomatic. He told me that Glasgow might struggle to match Delhi in terms of scale and in the size of the athletes' village. Many in Glasgow have been worried about the damage that the problems in Delhi could do to the Commonwealth Games brand, so they are unlikely to take kindly to suggestions that these Delhi Games could end up being bigger and better than theirs.
Criticism, though, is something that Kalmadi is clearly capable of taking on the chin. When I asked him for his reaction to being booed at the opening ceremony, he denied he had been booed at all. It all goes back to that confidence. He believes in himself and his dream for Delhi 2010.
Encouragingly for Kalmadi, the people of Delhi seem to be backing that dream in increasing numbers. He might not have managed yet to persuade the rest of the world about the success of these Games but I can confidently predict that he will be greeted by cheers not jeers at Thursday's closing ceremomy.