Like he has done several times during the high octane American Idol contest, Anoop Manoj Desai had dinner with his family after Tuesday's performance. Family members say that Anoop who is a natural optimistic was hoping to be on the show, watched by 25-30 million passionate fans in a week, for several weeks.
But the grad student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who took a semester off to be in the competition saw his luck run out on Wednesday night which saw two contestants sent 'home.'
Anoop has been among the bottom three on four occasions. But on Wednesday, he was soundly sent home. The words of the song he sang on Tuesday night proved prophetic: Dim All the Lights.
The organisers of the event said a record 45 million votes were cast following Tuesday's performance.
Anoop got mixed reviews for his take on Donna Summer's Dim All the Lights, with three of the judges saying his vocals were strong, despite problems with the arrangement and a troubling note at the end.
Simon Cowell, one of the three judges and the most unpredictable, declared 'that was mediocre at best... And worst performance by a mile.' His comments came after the other judges had praised Anoop.
Paula Abdul said, "No one can deny how beautiful your vocals are,' following Randy Jackson declaring, "Dude you can sing.'
But the final verdict was in the hands of the voters who must have well remembered Cowell's thumbs down verdict.
Some serious bloggers predicted that he would be out of the show, with one complaining that his body movements were stiff.
'Now Anoop has no reason to hang his head,' wrote Gerald McConway. 'He has performed the best that he can, but he is up against what is probably the best cast ever on this show. The fact is that he needs someone to work with him and polish him up a little bit. If he wants to be successful, he is going to have to get some work on his vocals and a lot of work on his stage presence. He lasted as long as he could, but this is the end of the road for Anoop. He could not have picked a more appropriate song for his finale.'
The show was about vocal performance but appropriate body movement also counts, McConway commented.
'You can complain all you want about this being a vocal show, but it also about creating an Idol,' he added. 'I am not sure what that half-hearted clapping was that he did, but he would have been better off leaving that out of his performance.'
Anoop, the only child of his parents (with his mother having a doctorate in biochemistry and father in computer science), had said some time back that he did not fear bad things. 'Everything bad that has happened to me has made me stronger,' he asserted. Family members say that even when he got strong criticism from a judge now and then, he tried to analyse his own performance and see if there was much truth in the criticism.
He has realised that one doesn't have to go all the way to have his dream come true, family members say. He is set his sight on a singing career, even though he wants to complete his grad studies in cultural anthropology.
He was also one of the award-winning students at UNC. An honor's student as an undergraduate within UNC-CH's American Studies department, he chose for honor's thesis, a topic North Carolinians find irresistible: Barbecue.
The 60-page thesis analyzed types of southern barbecue and its influence on the culture of southerners.
"He enjoys food but music gives him much more satisfaction," says his aunt Kriti Desai. "We have wondered many times how careful he is maintaining his weight. He would not do anything that will hurt his studies or singing." He also honed his singing at the university where he was a member of Cliff Hangers, one of America's best known campus singing groups.
Because he made the top 10 cut, he will appear on this summer's Idols Live tour, which will go to over four dozen cities.