Shridhar Chillal of Pune, India, stopped cutting the fingernails on his left hand in 1952 when he was 14 years old. He decided to grow them after a teacher yelled at him for breaking a nail. According to the website All India Roundup, India has a long tradition of men having a single long nail. They say:
Historically, it is considered a sign of wealth and elegance for a man to have at least one long nail. The reason for it signifying wealth is because it shows that they do “upper class” work – like administration or office work, trading or an academic profession – as opposed to manual labour, particularly if they keep it in good condition by keeping it clean and un-chipped.
Although the Guinness Book of World's Records had not come into existence yet, Chillal wanted to see how long he could grow his nails. He only grew the nails on the left hand so he could still use his right to work. Now he is 82-years-old, and his left hand is permanently disfigured because of 29 feet of fingernails.
Chilla flew to New York and had the nails removed by a doctor. The nails are now on display at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium in Times Square.