His name is Gurdip Singh. But much of the Punjabi community in Singapore, Malaysia and even as far as Canada knows him as Elvis Cha Peelo.
Three years ago, the 53-year-old began producing short videos of himself saying “cha peelo” (drink tea) while holding a cup of tea or a packet of teh tarik ikat tepi (tied by its side) – a common sight in Malaysia and Singapore.
“It was my way of greeting my friends in my WhatsApp groups. At that time, I was in three WhatsApp groups. Today, I’m in over 30 WhatsApp groups – and they all look forward to my cha peelo messages,” said Gurdip.
Born in Kuantan, Gurdip moved to Singapore when he was 18 and has been living there since. The Singaporean permanent resident works as a marine technician and is an avid biker.
He has also recorded videos while on his Honda Adventure and has travelled from Singapore to Thailand alone on his trusted machine.
So why Elvis?
“Earlier, my nickname was Robin Singh. I started working abroad, including in Russia, and people said I looked like Elvis. I started having his hairstyle and dressed up like Elvis. I’ve had strangers coming up to me, wanting to take pictures. So, it is only natural that Elvis is my new nickname.”
And why ‘cha peelo‘?
“There’s no specific reason. I start every greeting with Sat Sri Akal or cha peelo. Tea is universal.
“Cha peelo has been my signature ever since. I’m a loud person. I’m a happy person. I’m a happening person in my WhatsApp groups. And people just love to listen to what I say in my videos and share it with their friends and family,” Gurdip added.
Although his videos are often in Punjabi and English, Gurdip acknowledges even the non-Punjabis know of him.
Despite his celebrity-like status, Gurdip has no qualms obliging to requests of recording birthday or engagement greeting videos for his ‘fans’.
“Sometimes I get four or five requests a day. Some want me to wish their parents happy birthday or congratulate a couple on their wedding day. I’m happy to do it.”
“No one can take cha peelo away from me … in Singapore, Malaysia or anywhere in the world,” he said in jest.
His videos have been labelled as funny and entertaining. Gurdip said it is his way of spreading laughter, joy and love to the world, especially since the world is battling Covid-19.
“It’s best that we just stay at home as much as possible. Eat, drink and be merry. Leave the rest to the Almighty,” he said.
“Usually, people are so preoccupied with work and they take those around them for granted. Now, you are spending more time at home with your loved ones. Cherish it. When you’re out, remember to practise physical distancing.
“Always spread joy, spread laughter, smile and remember to cha peelo!”